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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The commish weighs in

With a lot of chatter out there about the future of the MAAC tournament, The Blog e-mailed a few questions to MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor. The commish touched on a few topics, from the process of securing and developing tournament bids to which cities and venues could be future sites. Later in the week we'll go into some detail on the pros and cons of prospective sites. But there's no better a way to start a discussion than with a few answers from the commish, so here they are:

Blog: First, just to be clear on the basics: Can you give me an overview of how these decisions get made and who ultimately makes them?

Commish: The Process has varied from bid cycle to bid cycle, with the one constant being that the MAAC Council of Presidents has the decision making authority. For the 2012-14 bid cycle, the MAAC has hired a consultant, Stafford Sports, LLC, which also assisted with the recent 2009 relocation to the Times Union Center in Albany and the 2011 bid to the Arena at Harbor Yard. It was agreed for the 2012-14 cycle that the bid process will start after this upcoming 2009 championship and the league looks to pick the sites by the December 2009 MAAC Council of Presidents meeting. Stafford Sports will be handling the securing of the bids, developing bid specs, etc.

From what I've read in various stories and from the statements the league issued last month when the 2009 and 2011 sites were announced, it seems like you guys are intent on having Albany be a major player for the foreseeable future, but not sure it's a good idea to have the tournament there EVERY year. Is that an accurate way to access the league's viewpoint?

I would say that the Times Union Center is very interested in having the tourney there every year and that the league recognizes its historically the best performing site from an attendance view and has other positives such as many hotel options, an active downtown with many dining and entertainment options and as a result it has been awarded bids on a regular basis. From a league perspective, you have other factors that weigh in, like nuetrality or travel costs and the natural desirability by any league member to host the conference's premeir sporting event. As such, its unlikely any arena would become a permanent site, although Albany has hosted more years than any other past MAAC site, and likely will remain in the mix as long as it continues to do a great job of hosting. Competition is a good thing, it keeps all the elements of the bid process, arenas, hotels, convention/hotel bureaus interested and producing quality events.

You're giving Bridgeport another shot at hosting the tournament in 2011. The attendance in 2007 was about 23,000 -- not bad compared with previous years at other sites, but nowhere near what it was last year in Albany. Do you think there's room for improvement regarding the attendance there, and if so, why?

Well, the only MAAC championship that regurlarly sells out is the swimming championship at Loyola College, so there is always room for impovement with attendance. However, attendance itself is only one measuing tool for a successful championship. Arena operations, hotels, transportation network, media coverage and some of the issues I mentioned above all factor in to the equation.

Andy Katz from ESPN reported last week that the league is looking at Mohegan Sun is a possible venue. Can you confirm that? If so, what intrigues you about that possibility?

The conference is discussing so-called 'destination' options as part of the strategic planning for the 2012-14 bid process. In that realm the Mohegan Sun, Atlantic City or the Baltimore Inner Harbor have been discussed as options as well as the MAAC's 'traditional' venues for possible championship sites. The discussion has gone no further than listing possible destinations within the MAAC geographic footprint that might drive more fan travel and also provide for a more nuetral tourney setting.

I've seen various sites mentioned that have not been used in the past but may be in the future, including the Prudential Center and the new Nets arena in Brooklyn. Are those possible future venues? And what other venues, if any, are being mentioned as possibilities?

Both have been mentioned, again in the context of possible sites. I would also add the Izod Center (Meadowlands), which would bring the MAAC back full circle to its first arena venue for the championship.

. . .

On another note, a correction from the previous post on Jason Thompson: As a reader pointed out, Thompson is NOT the highest player drafted from the MAAC. That honor goes to Lionel Simmons, who was taken (also by the Kings) with the seventh pick in 1990 out of LsSalle. Thanks for pointing out the mistake, and my apologies for making it. What is true, though, about Thompson, is that he's the highest drafted player since the MAAC has been made up of these 10 teams. The highest drafted player ever from a school that is currently in the MAAC is Rik Smits, who was drafted second overall out of Marist in 1988. The great Calvin Murhphy, in case you're wondering, was drafted out of Niagara with the 18th pick in the 1970 draft by the San Diego Rockets.


Anonymous Lawrence Guest said...

Would love to see it at the rock although I was at the Rider-st peters game there and the rider fans wayyyyyyyyy out numbers the peacock fans and I'm sure they would be seen as the hosts of the series

July 22, 2008 2:18 PM 
Blogger Paul said...

I would ask what one considers the "MAAC Footprint"?

Uncasville is 1 hr 20 mins further East from any MAAC school. Thus adding travel time to nearly every school with the exception of Fairfield.

Some of the other options suggested fall within what I would consider the MAAC footprint. Mohegan Sun does not.

How are travel expenses to/from the tournament handled? Each school pays their own way? Why not divy it up evenly amongst the schools evenly regardless of where the event is held so that no school is paying far more than any other.

July 23, 2008 8:00 AM 

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