MAAC Names MCCA's MassMutual Center as Site for 2012-2014 Division 1 College Basketball Championships
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference has named the MassMutual Center in Springfield as the site for the 2012-2014 MAAC Basketball Championships.
December 23, 2009
Ensor: Neutrality was biggest issue
By Pete Iorizzo
Albany Times Union
Neutrality is the biggest reason the MAAC Tournament is moving from Albany to Springfield, Mass., league commissioner Rich Ensor said Wednesday.
When discussions began among the league’s 10 presidents earlier this fall, it became obvious that Times Union Center and the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn., would be passed over in favor of an arena outside any school’s footprint, Ensor said.
“The coaches and administrators had expressed to the council and league office during the selection process that home sites have become too big of a playing and recruiting advantage for the host school,” Ensor said.
Ensor said the guaranteed money offered by MassMutual Center also ensures the league will have its most profitable tournament beginning in 2012, when Springfield will host for three consecutive years.
While declining to reveal the actual amount of money MassMutual Center is guaranteeing to the MAAC, Ensor said the guarantee will generate more revenue for the league than Times Union Center did last year, even with a record crowd of more than 50,000.
MassMutual Center also is covering all the tournament-related expenses.
“It’s not risk-free, but it certainly gives (the MAAC) a lot of sustainability,” Ensor said.
Times Union Center was the only arena to bid for the tournament that didn’t offer the financial guarantee the MAAC was asking for, Ensor said.
That guarantee was three times what the MAAC had been seeking in 2009, Times Union Center general manager Bob Belber said this past week. That made it a potentially risky move for the arena.
But Ensor said Times Union Center’s offer made almost no difference anyway, because the presidents made clear they were looking for a neutral court.
“It wasn’t a factor,” Ensor aid. “We never really got to discussing Albany and Bridgeport because neutrality became such an issue.”
Ensor wouldn’t say if MassMutual Center can back out of the agreement before 2014.
“We’re not too concerned about that,” he said. “We think our fan base will travel to the extent that we’ll have a pretty good environment here with 8,000 seats.”
The Basketball Hall of Fame, which is located in Springfield, will play a part in the tournament weekend, Ensor said. The MAAC can use its facilities for events, and the Basketball Hall of Fame will have an exhibit featuring the league from 2012 to 2014.