SBC Officials Choose New Orleans To Host Future Basketball Championships

February 10, 2013 · By · Filed Under Basketball, Men's, News, Sun Belt Conference, Women's 

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Almost lost lead-up to National Signing Day, the Sun Belt Conference office announced on Tuesday where the future Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments will be held starting in 2014.

Conference officials announced that Lakefront Arena in New Orleans will be the new host site of the SBC Tournament through 2016. Previously, Lakefront Arena hosted the Sun Belt Championships in 2002 when the University of New Orleans was a member of the conference. However this time it will be a neutral site for the tournament, making it the third such arena to host the Sun Belt Tournament as a neutral site.

Recently Lakefront Arena has undergone renovations that include $3.5 million eterior metal facade and sloped roof panels, a $1.5 million state-of-the-art  bitumen roof system, $2.5 million in new seating with 8,700 total seats, $1.2 million in ramp renovations, new flooring through out the second level concourse, new tiles and restroom fixtures throughout the building, lighting upgrades, a new sound system and the addition of two new lounges.

This announcement about the relocation of the tournament comes with a year left on the existing agreement with the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Both parties mutually agreed to split ways after the fifth consecutive year of hosting the Tournament after this year’s tournament on March 8-11.

“All of the characteristics that make New Orleans one of the greatest tourist destinations in the world will guarantee that the Sun Belt Conference’s student-athletes, fans, coaches and administrators will love coming to the ‘Big Easy’ every March,” Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation CEO Jay Cicero said in a statement with the Sun Belt Conference. “We look forward to playing an important role in making this one of the NCAA’s best conference tournaments.”

“New Orleans is a great destination for our basketball championships and the recent renovations to Lakefront Arena make it an excellent venue to showcase our league,” Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson said in a statement on Tuesday. “In addition to being a great geographical fit for our membership, New Orleans has an incredible track record of hosting great sporting events – including the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl which has had a Sun Belt participant since the inaugural game in 2001. The city’s great restaurants, shopping, entertainment and accommodations, provide Sun Belt fans numerous things to do when away from the arena.”

“New Orleans is a great destination for Sun Belt fans, as those who have attended the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl can attest,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University and President of the Sun Belt Conference Executive Committee in the statement. “It provides an excellent geographical fit for our league and is easily reachable for our fans. As we make this announcement, however, I would be remiss if I did not thank the City of Hot Springs for four and soon to be five memorable tournaments, starting in 2009.”

“The city of Hot Springs and the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau have been terrific for the Sun Belt Conference,” said Commissioner Benson. “When Hot Springs began hosting the tournament in 2009 it was the first neutral site that the Sun Belt had used in over twenty years. The leadership of Steve Arrison and his staff made the existence of a neutral site basketball tournament for the Sun Belt possible.”

“We have had a great partnership with the Sun Belt Conference over the past five years and are looking forward to a great tournament come March,” said Hot Spring Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Steve Arrison in the statement released by the Sun Belt Conference. “We originally had only a three year deal with the Sun Belt and are fortunate that next month we will have had five outstanding Sun Belt tournaments here in Hot Springs.”

Dates for the 2014 tournament will be released at a later date. But it is very exciting that New Orleans will be the host for the next three years. It’s a much easier location to reach for fans and has virtually unlimited sites and activities for fans to enjoy outside of the Arena. The city definitely had the upper hand as that is where the Conference headquarters are still located.

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