The Atlantic 10 Conference confirmed Wednesday a five-year partnership with the Barclays Center to bring the annual men’s basketball tournament to Brooklyn, N.Y., beginning in 2013.
Atlantic 10 Conference Commissioner Bernadette McGlade also announced that the league will change the format of its championship starting in 2013. Rather than have the first rounds of the tournament take place at campus sites, she said, all 12 qualified teams will travel to Brooklyn to compete.
“Our coaches were very united in wanting to have all 12 teams come to the new site,” McGlade said. “I think bringing all those student-athletes to the new center will be a very special experience.”
The decision to move the tournament is backed by a league report that the highest concentration of Atlantic 10 alumni live and work in the New York metro area.
The move places the championship near the home of CBS Sports, the A-10’s television partner for the tournament and several regular-season A-10 games. The league isn’t concerned about the relative lack of A-10 teams in the New York metro area, McGlade said. Head coach Mike Lonergan agreed, but stressed the importance of his team remaining focused on its upcoming season.
“It’s a great opportunity for our student-athletes, fans and especially the 25,000 alumni surrounding the New York City area to see our program compete for an Atlantic 10 championship at Barclays Center come 2013,” Lonergan said. “Until then, we’re going to have to work hard to get back to Atlantic City for a great tournament at Boardwalk Hall this March.”
Barclays is billed as a “state-of-the-art” venue, and will seat an estimated 18,000. The center will also be the new home of the National Basketball Association’s newly-renamed Brooklyn Nets, formerly the New Jersey Nets.
“We are thrilled for the Barclays Center to play host to one of men’s basketball’s most prestigious conference tournaments,” Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said. “We appreciate our alliance with the Atlantic 10 as we position the Barclays Center as a significant national collegiate sports venue.”
McGlade said Atlantic City made an offer to extend its current contract with the A-10 for two years in May, and the league examined that offer, as well as other venues. In the end, the move to Brooklyn is one that the league feels will put the A-10 tournament on the national stage, she said, as well as allow its student-athletes the opportunity to compete in a brand-new facility.
“The Barclays Center under the leadership of Brett Yormark has clearly demonstrated their enthusiasm to partner with the Atlantic 10 and help achieve our goal of joining together to make the A-10 championship one of the premier college basketball events in the country,” McGlade said.