Tom Zamonski (@tomzamonski)
The Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship will be moving to Baltimore, league commissioner Tom Yeager announced.
“We are excited to bring the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship and March Madness to Baltimore,” Yeager told reporters on Wednesday. “Baltimore’s renowned attractions will captivate our fans during tournament weekend and the electricity of championship college basketball will bring tremendous excitement to the area.”
Yeager released the news at a press conference in downtown Baltimore at the Transamerica Building. The tournament, which has been played at the Richmond Coliseum since 1990, will be played at the 1st Mariner Center beginning in 2014 and will be played there through 2016.
The change of venue does not come as a surprise as there have been whispers of relocation after VCU left the CAA for the Atlantic 10 back in May.
“(Richmond) has been a terrific partner for the past 23 years and together we created many magic moments for our student-athletes, alumni and basketball fans in the area,” Yeager said. “However, conference realignments have shifted our fan base and geography and the move to Baltimore re-positions the conference to maximize those changes.”
The tournament has been played in seven different locations. But the move to Baltimore will be historic for the CAA Championship as it will be the first time the event will be hosted outside the state of Virginia.
The previously farthest north the tournament has been played was in Fairfax, Va. when the tournament was hosted at the Patriot Center, home of George Mason, in 1986.
The 2013 tournament will be the last at the Richmond Coliseum as the CAA and city will not honor the final year of the contract which was in place to host the tournament through 2014, with an option to extend the deal until 2016.
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued a statement yesterday on the loss of the tournament.
“Richmond provided a robust and competitive bid for the 2014-2016 CAA Tournament,” he said. “However, after a long and successful history in Richmond, the CAA has notified the City that they will be moving to Baltimore following the 2013 season. We understand the move to be the result of conference realignments that have shifted the fan base of the tournament. With the changing landscape of the conference and the loss of two local prominent universities, it appears that the move to Baltimore fits the tournaments’ long term goals at this time.”
With the departures of VCU, Georgia State, and Old Dominion, the CAA has made the tournament a shorter trek for its northern schools.
Delaware will only have to commute 60 miles from Newark to Baltimore, compared to nearly 205 miles to Richmond.
Drexel will only have to travel 100 miles, shorter than the 245 mile stretch to the Richmond Coliseum from the DAC.
The 2013 CAA Championship Tournament will begin on March 9 with the conference’s NCAA automatic-bid being decided on March 11.