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2017 College Basketball Conference Tournaments

Posted by Sean Rowland on February 27, 2017

Palestra and Playoffs together is mouthwatering

Palestra and Playoffs together is mouth-watering

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It’s my favorite time of year again! The College Basketball season is winding down and the first conference tournament of the year begins tonight. While the NCAA Tournament is the core of March Madness, the Conference Tournaments should not be overlooked as there is plenty of excitement within each bracket. Since this is a stadium website, I like to break down each College Basketball conference and their respective tournament location. It’s not as fun when more conferences nowadays need a plane ticket just to travel to a road game, but nonetheless, long-time lovers of this sport can’t resist getting excited when the calendar hits late February. This year, we welcome the Ivy League to the party, a bittersweet change that ends the 14-game championship. Every conference and tournament location is placed below into one of three categories: “Good”, “OK” and “Bad”.

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Good

  • Big East:     New York, NY – Madison Square Garden

    • I know it is not the classic Big East, but at least there are still five original members
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  • Big Sky:     Reno, NV – Reno Events Center

    • Great move by the Big Sky last year. This is a spread-out conference in the western half of the US and with Vegas already packed with other tournaments, the next best choice is Reno. The Events Center is relatively new and mid-sized, a venue that fits wonderfully.
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  • Big XII:     Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center

    • Perfect spot in a basketball-rich city that loves the conference and always supports this tournament well.
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  • Big West:     Anaheim, CA – Honda Center

    • The California Bus League features most if its members in SoCal, so Anaheim is a great host
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  • Ivy:     Philadelphia, PA – The Palestra
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    • This post is about best tournament locations, not whether a conference should have a tournament. With that in mind, Yes! The Palestra is an incredible place to watch basketball already. Can you imagine the atmosphere on a doubleheader semifinal or a championship final? My one qualm: What if Penn gets in for future years as a #3 or #4 seed? That’s quite unfair to the other teams if they don’t bring their own fans. We’ll see how it plays out.
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  • MAC:     Cleveland, OH – Quicken Loans Arena

    • Excellent location and fans travel well here. It’s a great tournament made even better by a natural bracket with no double-byes.
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  • MEAC:    Norfolk, VA – Norfolk Scope Arena
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    • Norfolk is probably the best option around for this league.

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  • Missouri Valley:     St Louis, MO – Scottrade Center

    • Hands-down, Arch Madness is the best conference tournament in the country.
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  • Ohio Valley:     Nashville, TN  –  Nashville Municipal Auditorium

    • A long time home for the OVC tournament that is a natural fit. The venue is perfect for the crowd size and the atmosphere has been pretty good in recent years.
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  • Pac-12:     Las Vegas – T-Mobile Arena

    • New arena, same great neutral site. Vegas baby.
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  • Southern:      Asheville, NC – Asheville Civic Center

    • The Southern Conference has struck gold as they enter their seventh year here. Crowds have been good and Asheville is a terrific city
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  • Southland:     Katy, TX – Merrill Center

    • Small arena in a Houston suburb that is an ideal host for the Southland
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  • Sun Belt:     New Orleans, LA – Lakefront Arena

    • New Orleans is centralized and offers a lot for visiting fans. Great move in playing this year’s edition at the Lakefront Arena as that is a much better venue for the Sun Belt, than the Smoothie King Center.
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  • West Coast:    Las Vegas, NV – Orleans Arena

    • Big crowds fill this casino arena just off The Strip as each team brings a high number of fans. They are doing very well here

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Ehh

  • America East:    Campus Sites

    • I know this conference is too small to generate a big crowd at a neutral site. But I think Springfield, MA and the MassMutual Center is a solid location for them. Side Note: They have unusual spacing between the games with AE’s long-time format as three rounds are spread out over 11 days.
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  • Atlantic-10:     Pittsburgh, PA – PPG Paints Arena

    • Well, it’s not Atlantic City…but it’s a bit better than Brooklyn as Pittsburgh can be considered more “centralized” than Brooklyn. Though Duquense gets an advantage here.
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  • Atlantic Sun:     Campus Sites

    • Campus sites are fine for this constantly evolving conference. They still could try for better…how about Savannah and the Civic Center? It’s a nice destination town within driving distance of most schools
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  • Conference USA:     Birmingham, AL – Legacy Arena at the BJCC

    • Similar boat as the American Conference (just realized their league names are similar). At least Birmingham is kind of the middle for this far-reaching conference.
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  • Horizon:     Detroit, MI – Joe Louis Arena

    • Detroit and Oakland certainly will have an advantage in the Motor City and I think that Detroit is a fine host. But, I still believe Fort Wayne would be a perfect fit for the Midwestern City School league.
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  • MAAC:    Albany – Times Union Center

    • Despite it being Siena’s home court, Albany has been the best of the many places tried by the MAAC the last few decades. I wish they would consider Newark’s Prudential Center as it is closer to the core of the league’s teams.
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  • Mountain West:    Las Vegas – Thomas & Mack Center

    • See above (UNLV’s home). How about Salt Lake City?
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  • NEC:    Campus Sites

    • Not ideal, but there probably isn’t a suitable place for them in the NYC Metro area
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  • SEC:     Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena

    • Nothing at all against this fine city and arena, but both Atlanta and the SEC are Kings of the South. This event should stay in Atlanta.
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  • Summit:     Sioux Falls, SD – Denny Sanford Premier Center

    • The Sanford Premier Center is a beautiful new arena and Sioux Falls is a fine town to host an event. It’s just that the Summit League is so spread out that it is understandably hard to get fans to make the trip.
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  • SWAC:     Campus Sites
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    • Sadly, the right move to head back to campus as the amount of empty seats at any attempted neutral site is embarrassing

 

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Bad

  • ACC:     Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center
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    • C’mon man, Brooklyn? I hate these big leagues and their spread out schools. I long for the days of seeing the teal and purple court in Greensboro. Games were routine sellouts as most schools were within a six hour radius from the tourney.
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  • American:     Hartford, CT – XL Center
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    • It really doesn’t matter where the tournament is since this conference is a random mix of teams stretching halfway around the world. The American did take a step back this year as Hartford is a slightly less desirable destination city to bring in fans than last year’s site: Orlando (just slightly).
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  • Big South:    Campus Sites

    • Surely they can do better as the league footprint has plenty of mid-sized cities that could host. Roanoke, Greenville, Florence, Greensboro. Even going to Myrtle Beach would be worth a shot.
      ,
      ..
  • Big Ten:  Washington, DC – Verizon Center
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    • Blasphemy! Well, I guess if you are going to expand to Maryland and Rutgers for $ and TV eyeballs, then anything is fair game. I’ll miss Indy and hope Maryland loses early so that there are a lot empty seats.

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  • Colonial:     Charleston, SC – North Charleston Coliseum

    • A great city and warm climate for a tournament…but, it’s not even close to 70% of the league’s members. My heart longs for the good ol’ days in Richmond when this was a Virginia-centric league.
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  • Patriot:     Campus Sites

    • OK Patriot, it’s time to take a step and grow up…especially since you decided to make the curious move to 10 teams a few years ago by adding Boston and Loyola (MD). Allentown and the relatively new PPL Center would be perfect.
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  • WAC:     Las Vegas, NV – Orleans Arena

    • What kind of crazy teams play in this league again?
      .

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Posted in College Basketball | Leave a Comment »

2016 Conference Championship Locations

Posted by Sean Rowland on February 24, 2016

Hey A-10...Please put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty and head back down to Atlantic City

Hey A-10…Please put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty and head back down to Atlantic City

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It’s my favorite time of year again! The College Basketball season is winding down and a few teams have already played their last home game. While the NCAA Tournament is the core of March Madness, the Conference Tournaments should not be overlooked as there is plenty of excitement within each bracket. Since this is a stadium website, I like to break down each College Basketball conference and their respective tournament location. It’s not as fun when more conferences nowadays need a plane ticket just to travel to a road game, but nonetheless, long-time lovers of this sport can’t resist getting excited when the calendar hits late February. Except for the 14-game tournament that is the Ivy League, every other conference and tournament location is placed below into one of three categories: the good ones, the OK and the bad.

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Good

  • Big East:     New York, NY – Madison Square Garden

    • I know it is not the same, but at least there are still five original members
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  • Big Sky:     Reno, NV – Reno Events Center

    • Yes! Great move by the Big Sky. This is a spread-out conference in the western half of the US and with Vegas already packed with other tournaments, the next best choice is Reno. The Events Center is relatively new and mid-sized, a venue that should fit wonderfully. Here’s to it working out well in the Biggest Little City in the World.
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  • Big Ten:    Indianapolis, IN – Bankers Like Fieldhouse

    • Basketball is king in Indiana and the heartbeat of the state is perfect for a big conference tournament
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  • Big XII:     Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center

    • Perfect spot in a basketball-rich city that loves the conference and always supports this tournament well.
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  • Big West:     Anaheim, CA – Honda Center

    • The California Bus League features most if its members in SoCal, so Anaheim is a great spot
      .
  • MAC:     Cleveland, OH – Quicken Loans Arena

    • Excellent location and fans travel well here. It’s a great tournament made even better by the return of a natural bracket with no double-byes.
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  • Missouri Valley:     St Louis, MO – Scottrade Center

    • The best conference tournament in the country
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  • Ohio Valley:     Nashville, TN  –  Nashville Municipal Auditorium

    • A long time home for the OVC tournament that is a natural fit. The venue is perfect for the crowd size and the atmosphere has been pretty good in recent years.
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  • Pac-12:     Las Vegas – MGM Grand Garden Arena

    • Great neutral site. Though UCLA and USC had a slight advantage when this was held in LA, a little part of me still feels the Staples Center is the right venue though.
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  • Southern:      Asheville, NC – Asheville Civic Center

    • The Southern Conference has struck gold as they enter their sixth year in Asheville. Crowds have been good and Asheville is such a terrific city
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  • Southland:     Katy, TX – Merrill Center

    • Small arena in a Houston suburb that is an ideal host for the Southland
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  • Sun Belt:     New Orleans, LA – Lakefront Arena

    • I thought Hot Springs was a good home, but New Orleans is centralized and offers a lot more. I like the Lakefront Arena much better as a venue for the Sun Belt, as opposed to the professional facility for the Pelicans (whose crazy corporate name I will not write).
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  • West Coast:    Las Vegas, NV – Orleans Arena

    • Big crowds fill this casino just off The Strip as each team brings a high number of fans. They are doing very well here

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Ehh

  • ACC:     Washington, DC – Verizon Center

    • There is nothing wrong with DC…it’s just that this tournament is synonymous with Greensboro. Another byproduct of conference expansion.
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  • American:     Orlando, FL – Amway Center

    • It really doesn’t matter where the tournament is since this conference is a random mix of teams stretching halfway around the world. But as for destination cities, Orlando is a good one.
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  • America East:    Campus Sites

    • I know this conference is too small to generate a big crowd at a neutral site. But I think Springfield, MA and the MassMutual Center is a nice, centralized location for them. They have at least got rid of the unfair pre-determined host for the first two rounds to an all campus-site affair.
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  • Atlantic Sun:     Campus Sites

    • Campus sites are fine for this constantly evolving conference. They still could try for better…how about Savannah and the Civic Center? It’s a nice destination town within driving distance of most schools
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  • Colonial:     Baltimore, MD – Royal Farms Arena

    • The city is a great host and the location is in the middle of league members. But my heart longs for the good ol’ days in Richmond.
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  • Conference USA:     Birmingham, AL – Legacy Arena at the BJCC

    • Similar boat as the American Conference (just realized their names are close to each other too). At least Birmingham is kind of the middle for this far-reaching conference.
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  • Horizon:     Detroit, MI – Joe Louis Arena

    • The Horizon finally heads to a neutral site, but it’s not the one I was looking for. Give me Fort Wayne, IN and the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, one time! This Midwestern City School league would be a perfect fit for Fort Wayne. Looks like the Motor City will have to do as both Detroit and Oakland certainly will have an advantage.
  • MEAC:    Norfolk, VA – Norfolk Score Arena

    • This may move into the “Good” category eventually. Probably the best option around for this league.
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  • MAAC:    Albany – Times Union Center

    • Springfield was unfortunately a failure, so the MAAC goes back to where they know the crowds will be better. However, this gives Siena vastly unfair home cooking. If they meet in the Semis, I’m sure Monmouth or Iona will not be pleased having to play a virtual road game despite a better record than Siena. I still think Newark’s Prudential Center would be a much better option as it is closer to the core of the league’s teams.
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  • Mountain West:    Las Vegas – Thomas & Mack Center

    • Yeah, Vegas is awesome, but UNLV has a distinct advantage. How about Salt Lake City?
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  • NEC:    Campus Sites

    • Not ideal but not sure there is a suitable place for them in the NYC Metro area
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  • SEC:     Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena

    • Nothing at all against this fine city and arena, but both Atlanta and the SEC are Kings of the South. This event should stay in Atlanta.
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  • Summit:     Sioux Falls, SD – Denny Sanford Premier Center

    • The Sanford Premier Center is a beautiful new arena and Sioux Falls is a fine town to host an event. It’s just that the Summit League is so spread out that it is understandably hard to get fans to make the trip.


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Bad

  • Atlantic-10:     Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center

    • I booed Bernadette McGlade when attending the 2012 tournament, the last in Atlantic City. The move to Brooklyn the next year typified this attempt at making the A-10 bigger than what it is and should be. Teams are spread out, rivalries have disappeared and the premier conference event is played in a dark, cavernous arena that is a pain to get to. AC was a perfect home.
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  • Big South:    Buies Creek, NC – Pope Convocation Center

    • Coastal Carolina’s impending departure to the Sun Belt means that the tournament says goodbye to the Myrtle Beach area. The Big South had to scramble in the Spring and settled on Campbell’s Campus as the tournament site. Hopefully with some time this summer, they can find a more suitable location (Roanoke perhaps?)
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  • Patriot:     Campus Sites

    • OK Patriot League, it’s time to take a step and grow up…especially since you decided to make the curious move to 10 teams a few years ago by adding Boston and Loyola (MD). It’s time to try a neutral site and I am still in favor of Philadelphia’s Palestra. What a great Thursday-Sunday this event could be and I’m sure the city has a lot of alumni that would come out too.
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  • SWAC:     Houston, TX – Toyota Center

    • Without local team Texas Southern, games can be a sad sight with 90-95% of the arena empty.
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  • WAC:     Las Vegas, NV – Orleans Arena

    • What kind of crazy teams play in this league again?
      .

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Posted in College Basketball | Leave a Comment »

Big West Tour

Posted by Sean Rowland on January 7, 2016

BigWest

A lot of sports travelers are about visiting certain leagues and completing all of the teams in an entire circuit. Professional sports is a big task with roughly 30 teams spread out across the US and Canada, while the minor leagues have become spaced out too. So far, I’ve only completed the Eastern League (AA baseball), but that expires in three months when the Hartford Yard Goats officially replace the New Britain franchise. I’ve also talked about how the OHL is an excellent goal if sports trippers want to go that route and travel into Canada. In the college game, money-obsessed commissioners and school presidents have spread out most conferences, so that the big name ones need a plane to reach some league road games. However, there are still a few out there that are in neat and tidy regions (the way they should be). One of those is the Big West.

Beautifully dubbed “The California Bus League” by Kyle Whelliston, the Big West was not always a California-centric league. Schools like UNLV, Boise State, New Mexico State and Idaho spent a lot of time here before moving on. In a rare move, the conference consolidated geographically and with the exception of Hawaii, it is now a league with all schools in the California system (hence a bunch of CSU or UC acronyms). The nine-team league also means they play a true round-robin schedule. For road-trippers, this is such a great conference to strive for completion as many of the schools are around the LA area. Only UC Davis is in Northern California and the whole thing was perfect a few years ago when it was Pacific and not Hawaii in the league (The Tigers are in Stockton, not far from Davis). The arenas are on the smaller side, but there is a nice diversity between small gyms and mid-sized facilities with the highlight arena being the unique Walter Pyramid in Long Beach. The bonus…the weather is warm!!!

Visiting all 351 Division I Basketball arenas is an awesome, but very difficult goal. Seeing all the teams in a particular conference is a nice start and there are others to check out besides the Big West. Out of all the types of sports I go to, college basketball is my favorite because of the wide variety in the trip. From small towns to big cities, tiny gyms to pro-style arenas (and everything in between) and crowds ranging from friends/family to the insanely awesome one in Lawrence on Monday…the sport is the best for those obsessed with this niche of sports travelling.

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Basketball Arena Updates 2015-2016

Posted by Sean Rowland on December 9, 2015

905

Say Hello to Raptors 905 the newest D-League team. Man, I hope this is not the beginning of a trend for sports team names

 

There is not much change in the arena world of basketball this season as only two new arenas opened at all levels of the sport. In the NBA, we have a pair of new names as Phoenix now plays in Talking Stick Resort Arena, while out in Salt Lake City, “Vivint Smart Home Arena” is the renamed facility that the Jazz play in. What a terrible name and what’s the deal with this place. It was nice and tidy with Delta as the early sponsor. The switch to “EnergySolutions” and now “Vivint” sounds awful. Down a level to the expanding NBA D-League, the newest franchise is Raptors 905. You read that right. Not only is the name bad, but this is another example of a trend that dismisses the smaller city in favor of branding the professional franchise. In case you are wondering, the “905” comes from the zip code surrounding Toronto. This franchise will play in Mississauga at the Hershey Centre, where the Steelheads of the OHL play.

In College Basketball, there are two new arenas opening. Rather quietly down in Oxford, MS, the end is coming for the Tad Smith Coliseum as the University is set to open The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Delays have pushed the grand opening to Jan 7 for the Alabama game. Those blah SEC arenas built in the 1960s and 70s from Louisiana to Georgia are starting to go away, which is a good thing. I really like Auburn’s new arena and Ole Miss’ Pavilion should be great as well. The other new place is Baxter Arena, for DI-newbie Omaha. I mentioned this one a few months ago as the arena doubles as a hockey home for the school too.

Otherwise, there are several renovations, most notably in the land of the Orange Crush. The makeover to State Farm Arena has forced the Illini to start their season at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, which has not been kind so far. Another orange team is seeing an arena makeover as Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum becomes modernized. In the Ohio Valley, there are a pair of teams doing similar things: Removing nearly 2000 seats for nice new chairs and improving fan amenities. Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech are the recipient of those changes. Finally, one thing I can’t figure out is what is happening at UTSA (San Antonio). The Roadrunners media guide says Seating Capacity is 2,700 for their Convocation Center and it is temporary. The Google Machine could not find any renovation results or why this may be temporary. I’d be curious to find out what’s going on.

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Conference Championship Destinations

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 3, 2015

honda

Honda Center in Anaheim, CA…home to the Big West Basketball Tournament (photo from Jason Bartel at Stadium Journey)

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The calendar has turned to the third month of the year and you know what that means…March Madness! Yes, even though I’ve been down on the sport of college basketball, I can not help myself from getting excited as the postseason draws near. While mainstream media and the general population focus attention on the Big Tournament, the conference gatherings are just as special. The culmination of a frenetic regular season all boils down to a neat, tidy bracket to determine a champion (well, save for leagues like the Horizon and MAC with their step-ladder approach). Conference Tournaments feature competitive games, amazing moments and annual fan gatherings at neutral-site destinations. I’ve written before where I think each league should host their ultimate finale, but for this post I want to focus on which ones are the best place to spend a 3-4 days as a bi-partisan fan and enjoy the entire event. As always, I like to focus on the leagues that get less attention, so this list will stay clear of the Power Five:

 

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1)  Las Vegas, NV  –  Orleans Arena (WCC) and Thomas & Mack Center (MWC)  

The first choice is obvious…Vegas Baby! As the ultimate sports travel destination, Sin City hosts a remarkable four conference tournaments (Pac-12 and WAC are the others). Despite the seeming contradictory decision of the West Coast Conference to have their all religious-following members gather in a place that isn’t exactly conducive to behaving by Catholic/Mormon standards, the move made here six years ago has been a resounding success. And they moved to a traditional bracket! The WCC plays a little off the Strip in the Orleans Hotel & Casino. I stayed here back in 2009 and loved it as the facility had everything you want in a Vegas hotel, plus it is quieter and the heart of the city is only a few minutes drive away. Meanwhile, across town at the Thomas & Mack Center, the Mountain West Conference gathers a week later for their shindig. While UNLV is the host, the obvious lure of the bright lights brings tons of fans in to the pro-style arena which negates a significant advantage. Check out the mass of fans New Mexico had with them for the 2013 final against the Rebels.

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2)  St. Louis  –  Scottrade Center (Missouri Valley Conference)

Nowhere else in college basketball will you find such a gathering of alumni and fans convening for the annual event in St. Louis. That means the bars in Laclede’s Landing are quite colorful from the yellow of Wichita State to the Bradley/Illinois State red and the Northern Iowa/Evansville purple. This is the rare “mid-major” event capable of filling an entire large arena and the central location of St. Louis within the league’s footprint makes them an ideal host. Scottrade Center being downtown and close to attractions along with post-game establishments already set the stage for a great arena trip. However, it is the people and tight-knit community of these Midwestern schools where the atmosphere sets it apart.

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3)  Anaheim, CA  –  Honda Center (Big West Conference)

The California Bus League (aka Big West) culminates it’s season in Anaheim and SoCal is a great destination to go along with a neat, three-day Thursday-Saturday Tournament. My only issue is they moved venues a few years ago to the way-too-big Honda Center. With crowds not filling even half the place, their former home at the Anaheim Convention Center was a much more appropriate venue. Plus the location there is perfect as right across the street is DisneyLand. Regardless, the Honda Center is still only 5 minutes away down Katella Ave and the amenities at the big arena are better.

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4)  Cleveland, OH  –  Quicken Loans Arena (Mid-American Conference)

So why Cleveland in Winter…MACtion! This is always a hotly contested event and the downtown area has shed the whole “Mistake-by-the-Lake” moniker. Not far from the arena is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with the Great Lakes Science Center right next door. Now, if they would just do something about that horrible arena name and go back to their original title of “Gund Arena”.

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5)  Asheville, NC  –  U.S. Cellular Center (Southern Conference)

One of the Nation’s oldest conferences came back to a neutral site in Asheville to resounding success and this peaceful, eclectic getaway near the Smoky Mountains is a terrific place to visit. The U.S. Cellular Center is in the historic downtown, notable for it’s stunning architecture and array of small local places to eat. Make sure to check out the massive Biltmore Estate while in town too. The arena that hosts the SoCon action may have a new name, but it is certainly old school as the Civic Center box design screams 1970s, but features great sight-lines from the small upper section of seating.

Posted in College Basketball | 3 Comments »

Basketball Arenas Update

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 29, 2014

Stony Brook Arena Exterior

Finally, after many years of waiting, Stony Brook Arena has been renovated and reopened

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Looking through all of the 351 schools that play Division I basketball, I was surprised that this season did not feature any brand new arenas. However, four teams at least find themselves setting up shop in a different facility. Out on Long Island, after playing in the horrible Stony Brook Arena since 1990, the Seawolves were promised a renovated facility in 2007 and the team subsequently moved to tiny Pritchard Gymnasium on what was initially thought to be temporary. As state renovation funds were frozen, the upgrades never got going and Stony Brook remained in their high-school like gym for several years. Finally, a few years ago construction began and the “new” Stony Brook Arena is back hosting basketball. I’m looking forward to returning at some point as the previous version was atrocious with a ridiculous amount of deficiencies for a relatively young building. Of course, a bank had to attach their name to the new place and it will sadly be called the Island Federal Credit Union Arena. Ugh. 

Staying in the America East, Maine is moving off-campus as they will now play their games 15 minutes to the south in Bangor, where the 5,800 seat Cross Insurance Center just opened. Also moving to a downtown multi-use facility is North Dakota State, but that move is not permanent. For the next two seasons, the Bison will be in Scheels Arena while they have their new arena built, to be called Scheels Center. Sheesh. While TCU’s arena gets renovated, they will be playing games this season in the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center, which is home to the Fort Worth School District. It will be kind of strange to see a Power 5 team play in an arena that does not even seat 5,000. Lastly, as Comcast continues its ridiculous brand change, Maryland’s arena is now called the Xfinity Center.

In the NBDL, two franchises are out and three come in. The new team is Westchester (NY) and though the Westchester County Center is below my required capacity (I think…as its hard to find exact numbers), this seems like an ideal place for the Knicks’ affiliate. Meanwhile, Springfield moved to Grand Rapids and that introduces a new line on The List as the DeltaPlex Arena is the home for the Drive. While the capacity is stated at 5,000, the seating chart does not seem to reflect that. I’m curious if the graphical representation is misleading or if in fact they are closing or curtaining off sections. The Tulsa franchise moves to Oklahoma City into the Cox Convention Center (where the AHL’s Barons play), but it is what happened in NE Oklahoma that is more interesting. I’ve written before how the Tulsa area incredibly has several arenas with a capacity of at least 3,500. Well inevitably one has failed. The 66ers had to relocate as the SpiritBank Center in Bixby essentially closed. Saddled with financial trouble, the arena is no longer having any major events. In fact, the website now just goes to a catering company operating at the facility. Keep in mind, this place was completed in 2008 for $50 million, quite a bit money for what is now essentially a business complex.

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Conference Championship Locations

Posted by Sean Rowland on February 22, 2014

quin2

On-Campus Sites can provide better atmosphere like here in Quinnipiac, but when done right, a centralized neutral location offers the better spot for a Conference Tournament

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A few years ago
, I broke down each College Basketball conference and their respective tournament location. Certainly a fun little task I enjoyed and wanted to bring it back this season. It’s not as fun when more conferences need a plane ticket just to travel to a road game, but nonetheless, I figured to keep it fair and break down each conference. It’s getting close to the best part of the season as the first postseason is only a couple weeks away. We’ll split these into three categories: the good ones, locations that are just OK and then just plain misfits.

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Good
ACC:     Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Coliseum
…….Should not be anywhere else 

Big XII:     Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center
…….Perfect spot in a basketball and championship-rich city

Big East:     New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
…….I know it is nowhere near the same, but at least there will be five familiar names

Big Ten:    Indianapolis, IN – Bankers Like FieldHouse
…….Basketball’s home state is perfect for a big conference tournament

Big South:    Conway, SC – HTC Center
…….Though it is home to Coastal Carolina, Myrtle Beach is a nice destination for alums and students to gather

Big West:     Anaheim, CA – Honda Center
…….The California Bus League features most if it’s members in SoCal, so Anaheim works well

MAC:     Cleveland, OH – Quicken Loans Arena
…….Excellent location and fans travel well here. Too bad they have that stupid staggered bracket format

Missouri Valley:     St Louis, MO – Scottrade Center
…….The best conference tournament in the country

Pac-12:     Las Vegas – MGM Grand Garden Arena
…….Great neutral site. Though UCLA and USC had a slight advantage when this was held in LA, a little part of me still feels the Staples Center is the right venue.

SEC:     Atlanta, GA – Georgia Dome
…….Not really sure this needs to be in a cavernous football stadium, but at least
they got the city right

Southern:    Asheville, NC – Asheville Civic Center
…….This move a few years back has done wonders as the crowds have been good and Asheville is a beautiful spot

Southland:     Katy, TX – Merrill Center
…….Small arena in a Houston suburb that is an ideal host for the Southland

Sun Belt:      New Orleans, LA – Lakefront Arena
…….
I thought Hot Springs was a good home, but New Orleans is centralized and offers a lot more

West Coast:     Las Vegas, NV – Orleans Arena
…….Big crowds as each team has brought a high number of fans. Doing quite well



Ehh
America East:     First three rounds in Albany, NY; Final at home of higher seed
…….I know this conference is too small to generate a big crowd at a neutral site. But I think Springfield, MA and the MassMutual Center is a nice,
…….centralized location for them. Plus it takes away unfair home-court advantage for the pre-set host.

Atlantic-10:     Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center
…….I booed Bernadette McGlade when attending this tournament at Atlantic City. She is taking this great, niche conference and trying to make it
…….bigger than what it is with constant change. AC was a perfect home.
 

Atlantic Sun:     Campus Sites
…….Strictly campus sites is better than a pre-determined host. They still could do better, how about Savannah and the Civic Center?
…….It’s a nice destination town within driving distance of most schools

Big Sky:     Campus Sites
…….Hard to say what is best for the Big Sky. Maybe campus is the way to go. A few years ago, I tossed out Boise and the CenturyLink Center,
…….a nice mid-sized venue and city for the conference.

MEAC:     Norfolk, VA – Norfolk Score Arena
…….It was in Winston-Salem previously, but has now been moved to Norfolk this season

MAAC:     Springfield – MassMutual Center
…….Fans haven’t been big on Springfield (I think the spot is better for the America East). Newark’s Prudential Center, is closer to the core of the league’s teams.
…….Though getting dates would be tough with the Devils and Pirates in town.

Mountain West:     Las Vegas – Thomas & Mack Center
…….Yeah, Vegas is awesome, but UNLV has a distinct advantage. How about Salt Lake City?

NEC:     Campus Sites
…….Not ideal but not sure there is a suitable place for them in the NYC Metro area

Patriot:     Campus Sites
…….Have the first round on campus and then put the final eight teams in Philadelphia’s Palestra. This would make for a great Thursday-Sunday event
…….and I’m sure the city would offer a lot alumni.


Bad
American:     Memphis, TN – FedEx Forum
…….Honestly, who gives a crap where it is. This conference is a random mix of teams stretching halfway around the world

Colonial:     Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Arena
…….Tradition be damned. The Colonial did this to itself and as many Virginia members are gone, so is Richmond, site of many memories
…….and a great gathering spot each year for fans. Sad.

Conference-USA:     El Paso, TX – Don Haskins Center
……See notes on the American (AAC)

Horizon:     Campus Sites
…….Move it to Fort Wayne, IN and the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. This Midwestern City School league deserves a neutral, urban site

SWAC:     Houston, TX – Toyota Center
…….This event will probably be played in front of a 90% empty arena. They tried the Southland move by playing in Garland, TX for a few years
…….but it didn’t work out. Struggling conference overall for everything and I feel bad that they just can’t get this right either.

Summit:     Sioux Falls, SD – Sioux Falls Arena
…….See notes on the American (AAC)

WAC:     Las Vegas, NV – Orleans Arena
…….Who plays here again?

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Go. Think. Remember…Thank You

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 5, 2013

Bally from midmajority.com

Bally from midmajority.com

.
Ten Years. Ten years is a long time and I never thought a website would have such a profound impact on me. In
2004, Kyle Whelliston began the Mid-Majority. I was drawn to it within a year or two because it involved my two biggest loves in sports: Traveling and College Basketball. Yet through the years, I realized that my daily reading was more than just an interest in visits to small college basketball arenas. There was a neat little niche that was strangely attracted and obsessed with the Beautiful Season and those below the now blurred Red Line. At the same time, Kyle’s writing grabbed me and had my undivided emotional interest every time I read. When he stopped his travels and the site went on through the readers, it was sad, yet powerful at the same time that this small group believed. Now, the chapter is closing on a website that was much more than that. It is going out the right way and I look forward to reading about Raymond’s travels across the country, along with Matt and Kraig’s pieces along the way. While this post may seem a little off-topic from the normal stadium travels, it really isn’t. The Mid-Majority has always been about going out to see live sports, specifically the small-world in college basketball. Those that have been engulfed by TMM know what is it like, but if you have not been there…I highly encourage to follow along or contribute this last season. There is not much pure left in the sports world these days, but sometimes, it can be found for a few hours inside a far away gym in Brookings, SD or Natchitoches, LA or Elon, NC. And for bringing those stories and feelings to all of us. Thank You Mid-Majority and Thank You Kyle.

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So what conference are you in?

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 7, 2013

Liacouras Center Interiora

March is my favorite time of the sports calendar primarily because of the world of college basketball. I don’t mind that the rest of the country joins in the fun after the diehards follow college basketball’s important regular season through and through. Now we’re entering conference tournament mode and the excitement starts to peak. This year, the tournaments have a little different meaning with all the money-crazed conference affiliation switching going on. I’ve focused my attention on 16 of Division I’s more geographically-acceptable conferences and the Atlantic 10 is not one of them. They were getting on the edge with adding Richmond, Charlotte and Saint Louis several years back and then Bernadette McGalde tried to get all Big Time by adding Butler and VCU, along with pricing out long-time fans by moving the conference tournament from Atlantic City to the Barclays Center. Kind of gives me a chuckle to see the conference get picked on themselves with the new Catholic 7 (a place I can actually live with if it is an even 6 East Coast teams and 6 Midwest teams). That brings us to Temple, who after 33 years in the A-10 crawls back to it’s football bully, the former Big East, but this time for the full membership. You know, the one that Big East that once said “Your football team sucks and you have to leave”. Is it worth it Temple? Let me know next year after your February conference game against SMU.

OK, enough ranting…there is a stadium trip in this whole post and regardless of my frustration with the conference shuffle, I did have a good time at a very quality arena in Temple’s Liacouras Center. I really like visiting Philadelphia and the wife decided to accompany me on this trip. We are usually drawn to Old City and that’s where we went back to prior to the 2 PM game start. With her being Jewish, we decided to check out the new National Museum of American Jewish History. Really interesting and well thought out museum that extended five floors. I wish we had one more hour as there really was a lot to take in and I can concur whole-heartedly with the glowing TripAdvisor reviews. It took about 20 minutes to get through the Philadelphia Flower Show traffic through the city and up Broad Street to Temple. The North Philly neighborhood surrounding the school is really dicey, but Temple itself is quite modern with new buildings, shops and restaurants near the Liacouras Center.

The arena opened in 1997 and is almost three times the size of the old McGonigle Hall next door. A nice open entryway has plenty of room for fans before they enter into the arena concourse with a huge block T logo staring at them on the wall. Inside, I like the building a lot as the two-level, cherry-seated facility has great sightlines throughout. Banners up above are a nice reminder of the storied history that this school has. On the court, Temple was fighting for an NCAA at-large bid and they didn’t do a lot against a bad Rhode Island team (8-18, 3-10). The Rams kept knocking three’s down and it was a struggle for awhile until the Owls finally seized control in the second half. They hung on for a 76-70 win. There was a good crowd on hand as I would say it was about two-thirds full. I’m sure next week’s CBS game will be sold out. The crowd was ok and really didn’t get loud until the second half. When the home squad made some great plays to pull ahead by seven, many were on their feet cheering. However, as URI came back and the Owls needed a boast, the crowd sat quietly waiting for something to happen. They needed to make some noise there. Many have ragged on the Temple crowds before and comparing them in the scope of the whole A-10, I rated them 5.5 out of 8 points for fan support and 8.5 out of 14 for atmosphere. Check out the detailed review on the entire Liacouras Center experience by clicking here or on the reviews section to the right.

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Lehigh Basketball

Posted by Sean Rowland on February 28, 2013

Stabler Arena Interior

a
I’ve been itching to get back to Stabler Arena for a while to fix some blurry pictures, compile a Stadium Journey review and check out a Mountain Hawk team that I really liked even without CJ McCollum in the lineup. Wednesday presented that opportunity as I zipped on over to Bethlehem after work to arrive a minute into their Patriot League game against Navy. Stabler is much more of an arena than gym, when you compare it to the rest of the facilities in the Patriot. It’s not a bad place; conveniently accessible and spacious inside. The set-up is a little boxy and it’s annoying how the ends and sides don’t connect. But it’s a more comfortable facility to watch a game than their rivals down the road in Lafayette. My last time there in 2008, I was surprised at how ridiculously empty it was. Their conference tournament quarterfinal game against Army only had maybe 500-800 fans, hardly any of them students. This time, it was good to see a better crowd on hand (1200) with more students. They were a little more engaging too. A lot of this could be bandwagoners from last year’s historical team that beat Duke, so it will be interesting to see if fans keep their interest in a couple years.

For those basketball junkies, you’ve known about CJ McCollum much longer than just last year’s performance against Duke. He averaged some sick numbers his freshman year in 2009 (19.1 pts/gm, 5.1 reb/gm and 5.0 ast/gm). As their core got better, Lehigh really had the look of a great team. His cold-blooded shot to beat Bucknell last year and subsequent stare down of their taunting student section was awesome. Off the court, he’s a really great (and smart) kid and it was terrible to see him break his foot in his December. This team is still really good with Gabe Knutson, Holden Greiner and Mackey McKnight. I was surprised to see them struggle in losing their last three, but man did they put it together against Navy. They absolutely blew them out with a 72-43 that sounds as bad as it was. This also might be the fastest game I’ve ever been to, as it was over at 8:37 PM (a 1 hr and 35 min game). Looking forward to see if they get Bucknell again in the Patriot Final in a few weeks, or if Lafayette plays spoilers.

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