The Big Ten Tournament is being held at Conseco Fieldhouse for the fourth year in a row but with the conference’s contract with the city of Indianapolis set to expire next year, we look at 10 hosting alternatives to spice things up.
Conseco Fieldhouse is home to the Indiana Pacers but it’s also a second home to the Big Ten Tournament, as this is the seventh time the arena has hosted the tournament and one of only two locations to hold the event (the United Center being the other).
But considering the fact the Big Ten Tournament is one of the more subdued atmospheres among the major conference tournaments and that fans outside of Purdue and Indiana don’t exactly trip over themselves to trek to Indianapolis each March, we’ve decided to look at 10 alternative hosts we think would be better starting in 2013.
Note: Basis for rankings include atmosphere and condition of facilities, locations of cities to other Big Ten schools, city accommodations and activities and projected attendance.
10. University of Dayton Arena (Dayton, OH)
It’s location is somewhat central to the Big Ten, being sandwiched by Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana. The Dayton Flyers are known to have a very exciting atmosphere at their games. There’s also certainly a lot of history in an arena that’s seen 83 tournament games played in it (tops all time), and will now host the NCAA Tournament’s First Four. The arena seats 13,455 people, so it’d be a packed house throughout.On the down side, founded in 1969, it’s not exactly a modern arena with luxury suites and premium liquor flowing, and the night life in Dayton isn’t exactly raucous.
9. KFC Yum! Center (Louisville, KY)
Okay so the Big Ten’s athletic directors might rather drink their own urine than play in a Big East arena, but the Yum! Center is worth mentioning. South of the Big Ten schools, it’s a state of the art, brand new arena that is a nicer facility than many NBA teams play in. It’s also just a couple hours south from Indianapolis. Maybe the allure of this hypothetical court would lure Big Ten fans there? Or maybe the promise of lots of KFC Double Downs.
8. Bradley Center (Milwaukee, WI)
Well, the Milwaukee Bucks are one of the lowest valued teams in the NBA for a reason, and the Bradley Center is one of them. Hosting the Big Ten Tournament there would certainly help them out financially, as it generates millions to the host city every year. One point against the arena is its ventilation system’s problems. Also, it’s just north of Chicago but fans outside of Wisconsin might not travel well. It can fit about 19,000 people in it and has played host to many NCAA first and second round NCAA tournament games. Still, would anyone want to travel to Milwaukee in March?
7. Palace At Auburn Hills (Auburn Hills, MI)
Geographically, Michigan isn’t ideal for the rest of the conference, but the state’s two major programs’ fan bases would come out in droves for this. It’s a good venue for basketball and can you imagine Mason doing the starting line-ups for each team? Still, Detroit is generally viewed as a less than ideal vacation destination, particularly for college kids around the time of spring break.
6. Allstate Arena (Chicago, IL)
Deep-dish pizza, Carson’s ribs, and hot dogs — what’s to like about Chicago? Home to DePaul, Allstate has hosted NCAA Tournament games in the past (and can be seen empty throughout the Big East season). Chicago is the heart of the Big Ten and the Windy City has a great nightlife. Plus, Chicagoans take their ball seriously, as high school basketball is huge. And like the Yum! Center, it’s hard to imagine the Big Ten higher ups okaying a Big East venue – particularly one that’s not all that aesthetically pleasing. The arena, which seats about 17,500 people, is also located in Rosemont, IL, which is not quite in the heart of the city.