Friday, March 09, 2001

Is Philly best place for A-10 tourney?

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PHILADELPHIA — Those who saw the sparse crowd in the Spectrum on the telecast of Wednesday night's Duquesne-George Washington game may wonder if the Atlantic 10 Tournament should shop for a new site.

        But the event is in the first year of a three-year deal with the Spectrum — which followed an initial three-year deal from 1997-99 — so don't expect movement soon.

        “We haven't really discussed moving,” A-10 commissioner Linda Bruno said. “The building has been very good for us, and people are used to coming to Philadelphia. It's a good financial deal for us, in terms of playing at a neutral site.”

        The total attendance at Wednesday's three-game session was 6,486. Attendance Thursday at the two-game afternoon session was 7,121.

        Last year's tournament had a total attendance of 54,288 — an average of 9,048 per session.

        “Obviously you would always like more people, but all these conferences that are now 12 teams (the A-10 has 11 this year) have got to start playing on a Wednesday in the afternoon, and the early rounds suffer,” Bruno said. “You can see that across the country.”

        From 1989 through 1995, the event was staged at one site until the final, which was played on the campus of the higher-ranked finalist. It became a one-site event in 1996.

        Crowds have grown, from 21,200 for the 1992 tourney to a high of 57,141 in '97.

        Some A-10 coaches, including Xavier's Skip Prosser, contend the event could alternate cities. Prosser thinks XU or Dayton — the latter of which drew well hosting the Midwestern Collegiate Conference Tournament — would be ideal.

        The tourney's site is up to the league's athletic directors.


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