Why the Big Ten men's and women's basketball tournaments will be elsewhere in 2023 and 2024
Gainbridge Fieldhouse had been the regular host site for the women's tournament since 2015 and for the last three years, both tourneys were held in Indianapolis.
The Big Ten men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will not be hosted in Indianapolis for at least the next two years.
The league announced on Wednesday that the women’s tournament will be held in Minneapolis both in 2023 and 2024, and the men’s tournament will be held in Chicago and then Minneapolis in 2024.
So after hosting both tournaments each of the last three years, Indy will not host either for the next two years. Which is too bad because Indiana Sports Corp, Gainbridge Fieldhouse and the volunteers crush it every time. Fans, teams and NBA scouts alike appreciate the central location, renovated venue and easiness to get around downtown.
Indy was not considered as a host because it did not submit a bid.
Pacers Sports & Entertainment, along with partners such as Indiana Sports Corp, jointly decided not to bid on either tournament due to events already scheduled, Danny Lopez, PS&E’s Vice President of External Relations and Corporate Communications, told Fieldhouse Files.
The Fieldhouse has served as the primary host site for the women’s basketball tournament, including the past seven years. It was held in Hoffman Estates, just outside of Chicago, in 2013 and 2015.
In addition to Indy, the men’s tournament has also been held in Washington D.C. (2017), New York City (2018) and Chicago (2019).
“The Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments were successfully held at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in 2022, and we look forward to hosting these great basketball events again in the very near future,” Ryan Vaughn, President of Indiana Sports Corp, said, in part, in a statement.
Several people close to the situation later told Fieldhouse Files they are not surprised by the developments. That it’s less about conflicts — Indy is scheduled to host the Div. II men's and women's swimming and diving championships March 8-11, 2023 — and more about the Big Ten wanting to explore new markets and venues.
Sources also noted the Big Ten’s desire to have both the men’s and women’s tournament in the same city, like they had recently in Indy and will have in Minneapolis in 2024. (The men’s tournament is in Chicago next year as a make good for the tournament being relocated to Indy’s Lucas Oil Stadium in 2021.)
Did you take notice of Vaughn’s statement and how the final part said they looked forward to hosting “again in the very near future”? … As in ‘Go ahead and try to top Indy. We know you’ll be back.’
That’s also how I read it. And if you ask anyone who actually attended the event, from the teams to the media and workers, Indy does it right.
There’s a reason the football national championship game was held in Indy this year, the Big Ten renewed its contract for its title game and that the NBA is comfortable enough to bring All-Star Weekend, its featured annual event, to Indy in 2024.
Indy is the ideal host for many reasons.
Central location for the 14 schools, which is critical. It’s why Indy and Chicago work well.
Huge basketball fan interest. The men’s tournament was a sellout. IU, Purdue, Illinois and Ohio State will always have fans that travel. Games between Penn State and Nebraska can have a crowd because basketball rules here.
As previously noted, the volunteers.
How Indy embraces every event it hosts and the whole city gets involved. Look around and you’ll see banners and signs, and local spots welcome it.
And the local partners — like Indiana Sports Corp., Visit Indy and Downtown Indy. Details matter and these groups care. There's a reason why the NCAA moved the entire 2021 men’s tournament to central Indiana … for the venues and the people.
(By the way, if you haven’t seen the documentary produced about Indiana hosting the NCAA men’s Div. I tournament in 2021, you definitely should. It’s free.)
Now, The Fieldhouse not hosting the basketball tournaments should positively impact the Pacers’ schedule. Whereas this past season, they played five of six games on the road during this two-week stretch.
Add in the first- and second-round games of the men’s NCAA Tournament in mid-March, and the Pacers had only two home games in the first three weeks of the month.
So why Minneapolis?
“Minneapolis has an incredibly strong fan base for college hoops, especially women’s basketball, and will be a potent combination with the Big Ten Conference’s premier brand,” the Big Ten said in a statement. “It is a world-class city and has a strong, compelling basketball history and multiple championships on the hardwood. … Additionally, it has a strong WNBA following and showed keen interest to host the women’s tournaments.”
However, Indy will continue to serve as the host for the Big Ten Football Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium. That marquee game has been in Indy for the last 11 years and will continue through 2024.