Big Ten to pick championship locations

Updated: March 13, 2011, 11:25 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Big Ten could determine future sites for its three biggest championship events this summer.

Deputy commissioner Brad Traviolia told The Associated Press on Sunday that conference officials hope to make a recommendation to the league's board of directors this spring. A vote would come later.

Sixteen of the 17 women's basketball tournaments have been played in Indianapolis, and the men's tourney has been in Indy since 2006. The league's inaugural football championship also will be played at Indianapolis later this year.

"We've just started the process, so I think we're probably a couple of months away, and then we'll determine what recommendations are to be formed," Traviolia said.

Traviolia said Indy is bidding to keep all three events in town. Local officials believe they will be up against Chicago, the home to the Big Ten headquarters, for at least the basketball tourneys and perhaps others.

Traviolia did not name any additional cities that are bidding for the games.

Chicago hosted the first four Big Ten men's tourneys, which started in 1998. Starting in 2002, Indy and Chicago hosted the men's tourney in alternating years. Then, in 2006, Indy won a five-year deal to be the tourney's sole host starting with the 2008 tourney. That deal is set to expire after next season.

"We would love to have all three events as part of our event schedule," said John Dedman, spokesman for Indiana Sports Corp. "Our first priority was to stage two successful weeks of Big Ten tournaments, and we feel we've done that. Then we'll look ahead to the bid process."

Big Ten officials have plenty of decisions, starting with this: Whether to play at a single site, split sites, rotating sites or something else.

Attendance at this year's Big Ten tourney increased from last year, and the local officials believe part of the reason is fans have grown accustomed to planning March trips to Indy.

"The city and the local fans have really embraced the tournament and, I think, frankly, that the fans in all 11 markets really enjoy coming to Indianapolis," Dedman said.

Traviolia said the conference has been "very happy" with how Indianapolis has marketed the tournament.

But the league also will consider additional factors such as school expenses, promotions, capacities in the venues and potential ticket sales when determining where to put its championship events.

One of conference's top priorities will be keeping expenses low for the schools, which could give the more moderately priced Indianapolis an advantage over Chicago or other high-profile cities that could be in the mix.

"Our schools, whether it's a basketball or football event, are much more concerned about net revenue than gross revenue," Traviolia said. "So that is a key factor."

And the league will also have to debate whether it would be advantageous to play all of the championships in the same location -- or to spread them out across the Midwest.

"I think we'd be open to it," Traviolia said, referring to playing all three in the same locale. "It would be interesting to see if a city or cities would be interested in the three marquee events. It would be interesting to see what we'd do with that, but we want to be creative."


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