The Atlantic 10 men’s basketball championship will come to Consol Energy Center in 2017 and the Verizon Center in Washington in 2018, conference commissioner Bernadette McGlade announced Thursday.
The Atlantic 10 tournament was at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., the past two years, but the ACC and Atlantic 10 struck a deal in March to give the ACC the space in 2017 and 2018. The Atlantic 10 will return to Brooklyn in 2019-21.
“The partnership created the opportunity for the A-10 to move its championship around our footprint, which was very appealing to us,” McGlade said.
The Civic Arena was host to the Eastern Eight Conference tournament, the precursor to the Atlantic 10, from 1978-82. The event has come to Pennsylvania 17 times since 1977, most recently to Philadelphia’s First Union Spectrum from 1997-2002.
Duquesne, an Atlantic 10 member school, has worked closely with Consol Energy Center since it opened in 2010. The Dukes have made the two-block trip to Consol for 13 games in the past four seasons and have three more games scheduled there this season.
“For us to continue building our brand in Pittsburgh, that partnership with Consol Energy Center is critical,” Duquesne athletic director Greg Amodio said. “Having the Atlantic 10 tournament here, along with the NCAA tournaments we’ve had and the City Game against Pitt that is hosted down there, continues to help build our brand in the local market, and it continues to help build Pittsburgh as a great college basketball destination.”
McGlade said Consol Energy Center was one of nine venues to submit bids for the 2017 or 2018 championships.
Tim Hassett, general manager of Consol Energy Center, said the arena’s success with the second and third rounds of the 2012 NCAA tournament made the decision a snap. Consol also will be home to the second and third rounds of the 2015 NCAA tournament.
“Consol Energy Center and Pittsburgh are obviously thrilled to have the Atlantic 10 coming to town,” Hassett said. “As a home to Duquesne University and given our location in the footprint of the Atlantic 10, we think it’s a great spot for that tournament to be held.”
The Dukes were 13-17 last season, head coach Jim Ferry’s second on the Bluff, and finished with a 76-64 loss against Richmond in the first round of the Atlantic 10 championship in Brooklyn.
“Obviously, the coaching staff was very pleased to find out the conference tournament would be in our market,” Amodio said. “If we continue to build our brand and move the program forward, we really feel like by 2017 we will have a really quality product, one that everyone here locally will be excited about, will be a significant contributing member to the Atlantic 10 and can make a deep run into the tournament when it’s in Pittsburgh.”
Amodio hopes hosting a regional championship will boost the profile of local basketball programs and have a collateral effect on recruiting.
“Pittsburgh is thought of first and foremost, in many ways, as a football town,” Amodio said. “I think people lose sight of the fact that it’s a great basketball market. With Pitt, Robert Morris and Duquesne here, there’s great history here.”
The Atlantic 10 sent six teams to the NCAA tournament this spring, including an Elite Eight team in Dayton, and was the lone conference with six 24-win teams in 2013-14.
McGlade expects the conference’s success will translate into jam-packed venues as the conference tournament leaves the big city to tour the Atlantic 10 landscape in three years.
“Hopefully it’s an appointment-scheduling event,” McGlade said, “where people are scheduling the dates on their calendars many years out.”
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.