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What city should be the SEC Tournament’s “primary site”?


Last night, we found out that the SEC is exploring the possibility of having a “primary site” for the SEC Basketball Tournament after rotating cities for the past few decades. Since 2000, Atlanta has hosted the SEC tourney seven times, Nashville four times, New Orleans twice and Tampa once. In 2014, the Tournament will return to Atlanta, and then come back to Nashville for 2015, 2016 and 2019. The 2017 and 2018 sites have not been determined.

With sports attendance down across the country thanks to HDTVs, the league is concerned about keeping fans coming to the tournament year after year, and in turn, may choose to keep it at a smaller venue. As a result, Nashville is considered the frontrunner, but let’s break down each of the candidates by pros and cons:


Bridgestone Arena
Capacity: 19,395


thumbsup Close driving distance for Kentuckians — Nashville is the closest SEC Tournament site for Kentucky fans, who routinely fill the town and end up buying other teams’ tickets. The BBN always travels well, but they absolutely dominate Nashville. Even during last year’s down season, the town was blue and white, and wisely, the bars and restaurants respond to that accordingly. (Plus, I live a mile from the arena.)

thumbsup Central location to entertainment district — Few arenas have a better location for fans to eat, drink, and party before and after the game. Bridgestone sits squarely on Broadway, Nashville’s main drag for fun and frivolity. Compared to Atlanta and New Orleans, the arena’s central location is a definite plus.

thumbsup Nashville is booming — Nashville’s brand new convention center, the Music City Center, opened a few weeks ago, which may not sound very exciting to you, but it’s bringing tons of money to the city. Hotels are popping up all along “So-Bro,” downtown’s hottest district, and in turn, Nashvegas is booming. With great restaurants, bars, and parks popping up all over, Nashville will soon be one of the premiere entertainment destinations in the country.


thumbsdown Higher ticket costs/low capacity — Bridgestone Arena’s capacity is only a problem for Kentucky fans, who could fill the Georgia Dome every year if they wanted to. However, for every other school, the smaller arena is a plus. As a result, scalpers jack up the ticket prices for UK fans who are often times, willing to pay anything to see the Cats play.

thumbsdown Nashville fatigue? — Nashville might as well be Lexington South for the number of times UK has played here over the years, including the upcoming UK/Western football game on August 31st. Will UK fans develop a “been there, done that” attitude towards Music City?


Georgia Dome
Capacity: 26,000


thumbsup Plenty of room for Kentucky fans — Ticket prices are generally lower when Atlanta hosts because there are so many seats available. However, this will be a con for every other school in the league because they bring so few fans.

thumbsup Great public transportation — This is definitely one area where Atlanta has Nashville beat. Even if fans can’t find lodging downtown (which is easy because of all the hotels), they can easily get to the Georgia Dome thanks to the MARTA.


thumbsdown Entertainment district is lacking near arena — I know, I know. Stats is awesome, as are the three other bars around the Georgia Dome. While there are some nice bars and restaurants in the area, it can’t compare to Broadway in Nashville.

thumbsdown The Dome atmosphere isn’t great — I have a soft spot for the Georgia Dome because of all the great UK memories I’ve seen there, but atmosphere wise, it is a little lacking compared to a traditional arena like Bridgestone or New Orleans. Also, sight lines are off, although John Calipari might consider getting more experience in that setting an advantage leading up to the NCAA Tournament’s several dome venues.


New Orleans Arena
Capacity: 18,500


thumbsup It’s New Orleans — I visited New Orleans for the first time a few weeks ago and absolutely fell in love with it. The city (or what I saw of it) is absolutely charming, and the food is even better. The French Quarter and Bourbon Street may be a cab ride away for most, but from what I’ve heard, nothing beats the quarter when it’s full of UK fans.

thumbsup The food — Yes, I loved the food so much I’m giving it its own thumb up. From beignets at Cafe du Monde to gumbo, jambalaya, boudin balls and all the seafood you could dream of, Nola cuisine puts the city in a class of its own.


thumbsdown Small venue — New Orleans Arena is even smaller than Bridgestone Arena, which means that it will be even harder for Kentucky fans to get tickets. Of course, the Tournament could move to the Super Dome, but considering the league’s concerns about attendance, I doubt that will happen.

thumbsdown It’s far away — Nola is a 10+ hour drive from Lexington, and there are currently no non-stop flights from either Lexington or Louisville. Add into that hotel expenses and you’ve got quite a costly trip on your hands.

Your turn. Which city do you want to be the SEC Tournament’s new “primary site”?

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

42 Comments for What city should be the SEC Tournament’s “primary site”?

  1. Andrew
    7:11 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    It’s too hard to get a hotel in Nashville, and forget finding tickets. Plus the Nashville bars are getting a little old. New Orleans would be the pick if it were a little closer, so I’d go with Atlanta as a nice compromise.

  2. Ben
    7:22 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Catlanta is my choice! Central location for SEC. Lots of room. Nashville would be second choice! Yum Center would be a great choice, since I live in Louisville.

  3. Cat In The ATL
    7:23 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    As an Atlantan, I’m biased, but I’ll go with Atlanta anyway.

  4. Traveler
    7:24 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Who cares about bars and restaurants around the Georgia Dome, I go to watch basketball, so it’s OUT with Nashville because hotels are hard to find and cost way too much, then the one you pay out the nose for sucks, so it’s Atlanta for me, great hotels, MARTA from the airport right to the Dome and you can get a hotel on the MARTA line. There’s plenty of food inside to eat during and after the games.

  5. on the road
    7:26 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Atlanta. Great town and the dome seats so many more UK fans than Nashville. Nothing like seeing the road from the CNN center to the dome covered in blue.

  6. BigBrother
    7:34 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink


  7. Adam
    7:36 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    CATlanta, definitely.

  8. mj7juice
    7:37 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Did you really just say Nashville’s night life is better than Atlanta’s????? WOW

  9. UKnowMe
    7:46 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t see what is wrong with the current rotation? I would like to see Atlanta and Nashville rotated with New Orleans every 5 years or so.

  10. BOSOX
    7:51 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    This is a shot out of a cannon.. How about playing the SEC tournament in Cleveland, OH?!? 🙂

  11. cjcat
    7:56 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Hey! Let’s rotate Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas and Nashville; we need variety and scenery.

  12. Rock Out
    8:00 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    If you don’t think the Nashville nitelife is better than Atlanta nightlife you obviously don’t know a good time. Nashville is where this site should be.

  13. P
    8:06 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Tampa. Plenty of stuff to do, places to stay, and Lexington can fly allegiant air direct to st pete for cheap. Make it a full week. Beach and Sec…

  14. cjcat
    8:11 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    #12 I assume you have never been to New Orleans, Dallas or parts unknown to Nashville! Hire a guide dog and check the spots out!!

  15. Wild Blue
    8:14 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I vote Nashville. Less cost to get there means more money for tickets, lodging, food, and of course, nightlife.

  16. Chris Harrison
    8:15 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    If they want to sell tickets, make it Lexington. 🙂

  17. Music City Center
    8:17 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Actually could not be more wrong with it bringing a lot of money into the city. Convention centers are typically bad investments for.cities and this one is simply too big for Nashville and there arent enough hotel rooms downtown for them to get the conventions that would make MCC a wise investment. By the time the city grows into MCC the facilities will be outdated.

  18. Dbrownscotta
    8:18 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Louisville. For real . For what is arguably the epicenter of college hoops, it is total bs that the state if ky can’t or doesn’t get a shot at this. Yum center needs the $. Rick Bozich laid it out on and I agree 100%. The state of KY should have this, if not regional finals for march madness

  19. Mack
    8:19 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink


  20. Hoss
    8:26 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Atlanta, you host football so why not basketball???? ACC is looking elsewhere anyways…

  21. Jankins
    8:34 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    CATlanta! Tickets are easy to find, great public transportation, plenty of hotels, and lots of stuff to do. Those who want it in Louisville have lost their minds! Do you really want UL to profit from the SEC Tournament? That’s exactly what would happen with that crap lease!

  22. hotlanta
    8:40 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    They don’t call it Catlanta for nothing!

  23. BleedblueinNashville
    8:44 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I say keep it between Nashville, atl, New Orleans. Tampa is to far and if you keep it in one place no matter where it is, people will not like something about that place. But being from Western Kentucky (yes west passed bowling green) it is nice when it is in Nashville, all my friends and family that still live in that part of the state can make the 2 hour drive and be apart of the BBN even if they don’t get into the game.

  24. ACD
    8:44 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    22 – I’m pretty certain UL would not profit from the SEC tournament being there, at least not much. The way I understand it, they’re already getting their Yum Center money each year no matter what, and its on the Arena Authority to fill the dates. It would be an awesome event and a great alternative, especially if places like St. Louis and Tampa are included in the rotation.

  25. hotlanta
    8:48 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Every school in the SEC has a huge contingent of alums living in metro Atlanta. We also have the largest UK alumni chapter outside of Kentucky. It is centrally located and has a million flights every day. Add in Marta and transportation wise it is a no-brainer.

  26. Rock Out
    9:05 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    #14. I have been to each of those sites and Nashville is by FAR the best time. I’m sure you have a better time living in your mothers basement playing video game all day but maybe someday you will adventure out into the real world.

  27. Elkattio
    9:23 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I remember the days when the tournament was rotated amongst school venues. I’d love to see that again, but everything is so blown up now, not many schools would be able to host the tournament.

  28. coolioo
    9:29 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I like the idea of not playing in cities that could also host regionals. Like Atlanta, Tampa, New Orleans, thus limiting having fans travel to a city twice in one March. Nashville does make a ton of sense, and UK will have had played in Domes so don’t need that “practice”. Plus, the FF is an open dome set up now not cut up like they are in the Conference and Regionals.

  29. union14
    10:01 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    tampa, beaches, basketball, spring training, bars around the beach and cheap air fare!

  30. JLivermore
    10:12 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t understand how you get to the size being an inverse advantage/disadvantage for UK versus other schools. The effect that UK has on ticket prices is the same for other schools so larger venue makes it cheaper for all schools. And if the arena is the sticking point, Philips is right next door.

    At any rate, it’s Atlanta by a long shot. I don’t see any of the others even coming close to being as good of a permanent location. Atlanta is the only site I ever have interest in attending the tournament.

  31. Ky_Tom
    10:17 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I say the SEC should open it up for bids.

  32. bill
    10:19 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Nashville is fun but their dtown tourist bars get old…plus hotels are impossible…atl is the spot, plus everyone can get an opportunity to watch a game in atl

  33. Paul Prudhomme
    10:19 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    #26 New Orleans… and it ain’t even close!

  34. Kyle
    10:35 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Outside of MARTA and the tickets being slightly cheaper and more abundant, Atlanta has NOTHING on Nashville.

    Nashville is a better city. Bridgestone is a better arena. Nashville has a better downtown and area surrounding the venue.

    There will be some 1200-1300 new hotel rooms soon (Omni opens in October, 2 Marriott properties being built south of the Convention Center, and probably more). Plus there will be 1,200 new parking spaces at the Convention Center too (which is directly behind the arena). So people who choose not to stay downtown, can drive in and park. I live in Nashville and I’m biased, but I have never found parking downtown to be difficult.

    Yes it is smaller than the Dome (although bigger than NOLA), but the John Wall year it was an unbelievable atmosphere in the building and there is not a bad seat in the place.

  35. Rhett Butler
    10:47 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Atlanta you heathens! As to Nashville, frankly my dear…

  36. wcfan
    11:31 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Ms Thompson your luv of Nashville is nauseating’ do u work for the mayor? Get off their jock strap!!!

  37. Matthew P
    11:37 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Nashville is alright but is kind of tired and played out. 75% of the SEC tournament to me is the atmosphere and mingling with fans. Atlanta just doesn’t cut it. New Orleans was far and away the greatest time that I’ve ever had for a SEC tournament. Great food, awesome city, friendly people on every corner, Bourbon Street, great weather, many hotels, etc etc.

  38. Matthew P
    11:39 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Bourbon Street is just a few blocks away from the gym. It’s no more than a 10-15 minute walk (tops) from Poydras St.

  39. Cajun Blue
    12:08 am May 30, 2013 Permalink

    Rotate between Atlanta and New Orleans, with New Orleans being the better of the two overall but probably too far for some schools. But it’s set up for fun and has plenty of hotel space and nothing matches the French Quarter for fun.

  40. GiveHillbillysSumLuv
    1:44 am May 30, 2013 Permalink

    Pikeville, KY (LMFAO)

  41. FL_CAT
    7:24 am May 30, 2013 Permalink

    Tampa! Tampa! Tampa!

  42. Eric
    2:37 pm May 30, 2013 Permalink