Wednesday morning, at a press conference on the 12th Floor of the Transamerica Building in downtown Baltimore, Colonial Athletic Association commissioner Tom Yeager announced the conference men’s basketball championship tournament will move from Richmond, VA to Baltimore, MD beginning in the 2013-2014 season. Baltimore will be the host of the annual event from 2014-2016 at this point in time.
Within Yeager’s opening statement of a teleconference that was conducted at 12:15PM, he said, “We’re excited about the opportunities in which Baltimore will bring us… The arena, which is located near downtown shops and restaurants, is an outstanding venue for our fans who spend numerous days in the host city.”
When CAA basketball teams square off in Baltimore next season, it will be the first time the league’s postseason tournament is played outside of the state of Virginia since the CAA was established in 1982-83. This decision will also end the tournament’s 23-year run at the Richmond Coliseum and will change the venue of the event to the 1st Mariner Arena, which is located just a few blocks away from the Baltimore inner harbor.
The tournament’s previous location, Richmond, used to be the focal point of the CAA. The league’s headquarters are located in the city and Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion, James Madison, George Mason and William & Mary are all located just a few miles away. But, with VCU departing for the Atlantic 10 and Old Dominion set to flee for Conference USA in the spring, the city of Richmond is no longer the focal point of the conference’s basketball members.
“We’re a new group of institutions,” said the commissioner. “And, Baltimore is more centrally located for our institutions.”
But despite the shift in tournament location, Yeager said that the conference’s headquarters have no imminent plans of relocating to Baltimore as well.
This decision, which was decided internally last week, comes at the heels of a long, on-going process that began with the conference officials reviewing 31 different locations. In the end, Richmond and Baltimore remained the two finalists.
Among the factors that gave Baltimore the slight advantage were the proximity of CAA TV providers from Washington, D.C., seven of the ten 2013-2014 CAA basketball members schools being located within 250 miles of Baltimore and more than 370,000 alumni from CAA institutions reside within 100 miles of the city.
“We’re a different league than we were twelve months ago,” Yeager proclaimed. “Baltimore is a bigger stage with brighter lights.”
Hopefully, the CAA teams will be able to shine just as bright as their stage.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @JakeLFischer.