Earlier today, Oscar “naughty curl” Combs started a debate about the best cities to host the SEC basketball tournament. Apparently, there was some talk at SEC Media Days about how Memphis has repeatedly been shut out of consideration, while cities like Nashville and New Orleans have found their way into the rotation, along with Atlanta, of course.
Here’s the breakdown of recent and future tournament sites (Cal era forward):
2012: New Orleans
Man, it’s a good decade to be a Cat fan in Nashville, as the city is scheduled to host the tournament at least four times in the next eight years. What makes a good SEC Tournament host city? Here’s the criteria I’ve come up with:
– Central location to all schools
– Proper arena/facility
– Lots of hotels near arena
– Lots of bars/restaurants near arena
– Potentially the same site as the Final Four the same year (Atlanta in 2002 and 2007, New Orleans in 2012)
– Lively downtown area
– Plenty of tourist attractions
– Proven track record hosting large sporting events
According to this, let’s examine the future SEC Tournament sites:
New Orleans (2012)
New Orleans Arena (capacity-18,500)
Sadly, I’ve never been to Nawlins, but man, what a reason to go! New Orleans is a win-win situation for fans: beautiful city, plenty of tourist attractions, fun nightlife, and of course, awesome basketball. From what I’ve heard, New Orleans has a charm and mystique that is unparalleled amongst American cities. I’m almost as excited about the city as I am the tournament, which I can’t say about all the sites on the list (cough, Atlanta). Plus, with the super team Cal has put together for 2011-2012, the city will be absolutely brimming with Cat fans. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Nashville (2010, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019)
Bridgestone Arena (capacity-19,395)
Okay, I’m biased–I love Nashville. I live maybe a mile from the arena. But if the 2010 Tournament was any indication, swarms of Cat fans agree. That tournament was unlike any sporting event I’ve attended in terms of complete UK dominance–both on and off the court. Nashville is a perfect host city, with Bridgestone Arena (albeit smaller than the Georgia Dome) right next door to some of the best restaurants and nightlife in the South. Nashville’s downtown is built for conventions, and is small enough to walk around comfortably. Plus, it’s a mere 30 minutes from the Kentucky border, or an easy ride down I-65 from Louisville and Lexington. For schools other than Kentucky (pfft), it’s at the intersection of three major interstates (I-65, I-40, and I-24). It’s easy to see why the SEC wants to keep the tournament here for years to come.
(C)Atlanta (2011, 2014)
Georgia Dome (capacity-26,000+)
“Catlanta” has been a comfortable home for Cat fans for years. Atlanta is the biggest city in the South, rich in history, culture, nightlife, and sports (plus, they’ve got an IKEA). They are literally pros at sporting events, since they have three professional sports teams (the Thrashers are kaput, right?). However, some basketball fans don’t like the shooting atmosphere in a dome. Yet, the SEC is clearly exploring other cities and venues…have they “been there done that” with Atlanta or is the ACC, who is hosting their tournament there in 2012, trying to their foot in the Georgia Dome door?
Now, KSR readers, I turn it over to you–what makes a good SEC Tournament city? Which has been your favorite so far and which do you look forward to in the future?