Courtesy of Atlantic10.com
RICHMOND, Va. – The Atlantic 10 Conference announced Thursday it has entered a three-year partnership with the City of Richmond to bring the A-10 Women’s Basketball Championship to the Richmond Coliseum beginning in 2014. The announcement was made at a joint press conference held at the Richmond Downtown Marriott.
“The opportunity to establish a long-term home for our women’s basketball championship and partner with the City of Richmond was one we could not pass up. We selected Richmond because it gives us the ability to build on our record attendance from last year’s championship and provide a true March Madness environment for our women’s basketball student-athletes,” stated A-10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. “I want to thank our head coaches and Directors of Athletics for their leadership in this selection and commend the City of Richmond, SMG and my staff for their commitment to making this a true win-win partnership for everyone involved.”
The 2014 13-team event will take place at the Richmond Coliseum March 5-9. The championship will open with a play-in game on Wednesday the fifth, followed by four first-round games on Thursday. The four quarterfinal games will tip-off Friday morning followed by the semifinal round on Saturday which will be televised live nationally on CBS Sports Network. The finals will air live on ESPNU beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday.
When the championship tips off in Richmond, it will mark just the third time in its 32-year history that it will take place at a neutral site. Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Mass., played host in 2011, while Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., served as host in 2010. The Atlantic 10 is one of only eight conferences (out of 31 league) where the women’s basketball championship will be played at a neutral site, separate from the men’s championship.
The Atlantic 10, one of the premier women’s basketball leagues in the country, has seen at least 50 percent of its membership participate in postseason play in four the last five seasons. The A-10 has earned three NCAA Tournament bids in six of the last nine years and 17 times overall. The league has also had at least seven of its teams advance to postseason play in each of the last five years.
“I am so pleased to be welcoming the Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Championship to the city of Richmond. The A-10 is a phenomenal league and we are ready to welcome the players, the coaches and the fan base to our great city,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “This tournament has a very strong following that will strengthen our sports tourism draw and keep the city on the radar for future prestigious tournaments.”
The City’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities worked with SMG Richmond to pursue the event for the Richmond Coliseum. SMG Richmond manages Richmond’s Landmark Theater, Carpenter Theatre at Richmond CenterStage and the Richmond Coliseum for the City of Richmond.
The Richmond Coliseum has offered quality entertainment to the Richmond Metropolitan area for over 40 years. The Coliseum averages 130 events annually with an average annual attendance of over 600,000 patrons The Richmond Coliseum seats nearly 12,000 for basketball and has extensive experience in hosting college conference championships. There have been three other leagues that have held their postseason tournaments at the Coliseum. The Coliseum also hosted the 1994 NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Last season, the first three rounds of the A-10 Championship took place at Michael J. Hagen Arena ‘85 on the campus of Saint Joseph’s before heading to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York where a finals record crowd of 4,436 saw SJU top Fordham 47-46 to earn its first A-10 title since 1999. The A-10 Championship game was the first women’s basketball championship game played in Barclays Center and the first Atlantic 10 women’s basketball championship game played in an NBA arena.
Following the success in Brooklyn, seven Atlantic 10 teams earned 2013 postseason berths. Dayton and Saint Joseph’s represented the Atlantic 10 in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Five A-10 teams were also selected to take part in the 2013 WNIT. Dayton defeated St. John’s in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament to advance to the second round.
At the conclusion of the season, the A-10 ranked ninth out of 32 Division I conferences in the final RPI rankings. Dayton paced the league, coming in 17th among the nation’s top teams, while four additional teams were ranked among the top 100.