The Big 10 conference is reportedly set to announce a move to Washington DC’s Verizon Center for their 2017 conference tournament on Tuesday, meaning a likely landing spot for the Atlantic 10 tournament that season can be taken off the board.
After recently announcing a deal with the Atlantic Coast Conference to vacate the Barclays Center for the 2017-18 seasons, the A-10 will be searching for a two-season home, and with the additions of VCU, George Mason and Davidson to the league, DC’s Verizon Center was a prime candidate.
The conference has played their past two tournaments in Brooklyn and have an agreement to continue to do so through 2021 but now have a two-year gap in which they must head elsewhere.
The Atlantic 10 played their previous six tournaments in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall then in two locations in Ohio dating back to the 2003 season.
With the likes of Xavier and Butler recently leaving the conference and the addition of three southern East Coast schools, the league could very well head back to Philadelphia where the conference tournament was held from 1996-2002. The city has two potential venues in which they could host it: the historic Palestra that hosts a number of Big 5 games or the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Both have their strengths and weaknesses. The Palestra is a famed historic venue that the league could easily sell out for it’s tournaments but is one that lacks the modern amenities expected for a tournament that expects fans to sit through up to four games a day in (read: incredibly uncomfortable seats, lack of concessions options, etc). The Wells Fargo Center would mean a move to, like the Barclays Center, another NBA Arena, but based on previous tournament attendance results could likely end up half full for most sessions.
A move to Philly would bring the tournament some 1.5 hours closer for southern schools Mason, GW, VCU, Richmond and Dayton, moves it almost three hours closer to western schools Duquesne, Saint Louis and Dayton and is within a short drive, bike ride or walk of Philly schools Saint Joseph’s and La Salle.