Thursday the Atlantic 10 announced that for the first time since 2004, its men’s basketball championship will be played at a campus site as all contests will be relocated from the Barclays Center.
The dates of Mar 10-14 remain unchanged and the 2022 championships are still locked in to Capital One Arena in Washington DC. The championships will return to Barclays Center in 2023 and 2024.
While the campus venue is currently under review will be announced “in the near future”, PSN’s Zachary Weiss wanted to break down some of the most likely landing spots.
VCU– This one almost makes too much sense to ignore. VCU is already hosting the A-10 Women’s Basketball Championships from Mar 3-7, something the conference said is on track to happen.
That championship has an extra day added to it as in recent years there would be a Tuesday play with the third-through-eighth seeds hosting contests against teams which finished between 9th and 14th place with the top two seeds receiving byes. Instead in an effort to reduce travel, everything is being planned to be held at the Siegel Center.
What also works in VCU’s favor is that there have been 250 fans permitted to attend games. This would be an important factor for the A-10 as family and/or friends may be allowed to attend if things stay as they are which is huge, and something a lot of other venues would not be able to have.
Of course there may need to be more time in between sessions so the venue can be disinfected but the possibility of fans is something many other options would not have.
The Siegel Center is just over one hour away from the A-10 offices in Newport News meaning it also would be easier on them as well.
Additionally, having the men’s event there after the women’s event could be important as those in tier 2 and tier 3 that would potentially attend the event would be as close to identical as possible which is ideal in terms of creating a bubble.
Logistically, there are multiple hotels very close to the venue and the conference has plenty of familiarity with the venue given the proximity and of course its choice to have the now-shuttered Richmond Coliseum host several women’s basketball championships.
VCU has the flexibility, and a great practice facility as well for team shootarounds. It seems like a slam dunk.
Richmond– Richmond has a very similar case as VCU though it of course would be a slightly different bubble. Still the option is certainly an attractive one, though VCU would make more sense.
Dayton– Dayton would be an interesting option. Of course UD Arena hosts the First Four each year and there is a ton of comfort and familiarity when it comes to hosting events such as this.
In fact UD Arena held last year’s A-10 Women’s Basketball Championships. There are multiple Marriotts that are walkable to the arena and even though there are no fans there at this point, it is a road trip that many teams look forward to because of the atmosphere and overly friendly nature of Dayton as a city.
If the A-10 decided to go with Dayton on short notice, there is little doubt the event would be well run and first class.
Saint Louis– Saint Louis would be an interesting venue in that it is a little further out but certainly Chaifetz Arena would provide plenty of distance and room for all tiers to do what is needed, not to mention it is a great venue. There are several hotels that could be utilized as well.
As stated, the distance does make it tough for some programs which the conference has to consider as the A-10 admitted it is considering the traveling aspect.
From Duquesne’s perspective it would likely take a private charter as it typically does if indeed Saint Louis was the choice so there is little risk of exposure there.
Both Saint Louis’s men’s and women’s team have been shut down by COVID-19. The men have not played since Dec. 23 meaning it is 0-0 in A-10 play. The women played even less recently Dec. 6. They have only played in two contests this season and it had a stoppage earlier in the season as well.
Duquesne– Duquesne is definitely not the first name that will jump off the page but of course it has hosted events both at PPG Paints Arena and at the now-former Palumbo Center. The conference clearly has a good working relationship with Duquesne hosting events and there is a Marriott right up the road with additional hotels downtown available if needed.
While Duquesne may not seem like a solution that jumps off the page given that home games right now are being played at LaRoche University’s Kerr Fitness Center, an NCAA D-III gym. If the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse were to be ready in time, there certainly would have to be some temptation to open it up in a big way.
Of course for that to happen it has to open, which there has been no announcement save for men’s basketball coach Keith Dambrot stating in a radio interview that it may be ready for February. At this time there has been no public confirmation of that remark.
PPG Paints Arena would not make much sense for a venue at this time because it has a nearly identical seating capacity to Barclays Center. The Brooklyn Nets are currently in season and Barclays Center is not allowing fans to attend which made finding an alternative venue a necessity.
At this moment Duquesne contests do not have fans attending and in terms of city limits, Pitt had fans and then those were taken away during non-conference play.
George Washington– Normally GW would have been an ideal venue given its location and similarly to playing at Richmond or VCU, it would be very gettable for a lot of teams with several hotels within walking or shuttle distance.
Of course things in the DC area are gaining headlines from both a political and social unrest standpoint and no media are attending GW games save for those that are broadcasting which makes this potential solution highly unlikely.