Missouri Valley Conference keeps basketball tournament in St. Louis

07/09/2014 2:36 PM

07/09/2014 2:36 PM

Shocker fans can keep their plans for St. Louis in early March.

The Missouri Valley Conference announced Wednesday that its men’s basketball tournament will remain in St. Louis’ Scottrade Center through 2018. The tournament has been in St. Louis since 1991 and Wichita State won it there for the first time last season.

The MVC has an option to keep the tourney in St. Louis through 2020.

“When we looked at totality of bids, St. Louis was a clear winner from a financial standpoint,” MVC commissioner Doug Elgin said. “… I think geography did play into it a little bit, as always, but I think because we have a lot of history here that people took it into consideration.”

The MVC Presidents Council voted unanimously to approve a recommendation to remain in St. Louis by a league committee of athletic directors and senior women’s administrators.

Elgin said Kansas City’s Sprint Center and the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, Ill. – a Chicago suburb – submitted bids for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 tournaments.

Elgin said conflicts with available dates in Chicago and Indianapolis caused those two cities not to submit bids.

Wichita State fans hoping for a shorter drive – and more of a home-court advantage – in Kansas City’s Sprint Center didn’t get their wish.

“It would’ve made a lot of sense given the proximity to Wichita State and the great fan base they have there,” Elgin said in a St. Louis news conference. “They’ve always had great support when you consider they have to go the farthest distance to get to St. Louis.”

Elgin said Las Vegas, once eyed by the conference as a possible host, did not submit a bid.

“That was a stretch, I think, from a standpoint of finding out what our tournament might mean to that locale,” he said. “It probably would’ve cut out the average fan.”

The Big East Conference Tournament and New York’s Madison Square Garden are the only duo to partner for more consecutive years than the Valley and St. Louis.

The MVC Tournament began in 1977 with games on campus sites, either hosted by higher-seeded teams or all games at one site. In 1991, the tournament moved to St. Louis’ Kiel Auditorium, then St. Louis Arena, and in 1995 the Kiel Center – now the Scottrade Center.

It’s the second time the Valley has looked at other neutral-site hosts. In 2007, Des Moines and Omaha (technically campus sites for Drake and Creighton) joined Kansas City and St. Louis in submitting bids. St. Louis won the bid.

St. Louis Sports Commission chairman Frank Viverito challenged St. Louis sports fans to attend the March tournament in better numbers than in past years.

“Let’s not take it for granted, because quite frankly, the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament is big-time college basketball,” Viverito said. “The event is worth attending an enjoying every year.”

The tournament has an estimated economic impact of $16 million, the conference said, making it one of the top five conventions for the city.

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