Could GBB finals return to Conseco in 2013 & 2015?
With the recent news that the Big Ten will be rotating both the men’s and women’s basketball championship tournaments between Indianapolis and Chicago for the next few years, it’s possible the IHSAA Girls Basketball State Championship finals could return to Conseco Fieldhouse in 2013 and 2015 — years when the B10 women’s championships will be played in Chicago.
Conseco ditched the IHSAA girls finals in 2010 in favor of hanging onto the Big Ten women’s tournament, whose officials did not like the off-day allotted for the high school tournament in the middle of the B10 tournament schedule, making rumblings of a move. No one could really blame Conseco for the decision, as a four-day commitment for the facility couldn’t equate to the revenue of a one-day high school event.
Fort Wayne began hosting the state finals in 2010, using a page from Don Vito Corleone’s playbook by providing an offer the IHSAA couldn’t refuse — free use of Memorial Coliseum. While the Coliseum is a nice facility with great history behind it, it is a bit of a haul — some traveling 5 hours or more by school bus — for teams and fans in the southern part of the state.
The girls tournament has seen declining attendance ever since the event was moved out of Indy, making the cavernous Coliseum echo the ball bounces and shoe squeaks louder than they should at an event of such importance in Indiana high school girls basketball. A move back to Indy would be a welcome test to see if the finals can attract a wider fan base in a central location — more casual fans than just the supporters of the teams involved.
In a recent blog post by the Indianapolis Star, IHSAA assistant commissioner Theresia Wynns, who oversees girls basketball, indicated that the finals could return to Conseco depending on the outcome of the B10 tournament venue assignments, which are now known. But for 2012, it appears that the continuing free use deal provided by Fort Wayne could again top new bids by the Hulman Center at Indiana State in Terre Haute or the new Evansville Arena. The IHSAA will be considering their options at a meeting on June 23.