One week ago, in a unanimous vote, the WIAA Board of Control approved a proposal that keeps the boys state basketball tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison through 2020, while moving the girls tourney to Green Bay’s Resch Center. That vote ended some nine months of speculating about where the tournaments would be played.
While most of the conversation over that time centered on the “where,” one of the key issues in this whole process is “when.” The WIAA has been adamant that it wants its basketball tournaments to be played on its “preferred dates”: the second and third weekends in March. There’s a definite logic in that position. Play your state tournaments any later in the month of March, and you run into conflicts with your member schools being on spring break. Beyond that, you wind up competing with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and the general onset of spring (and spring sports).
While a cynic may claim that all the WIAA cares about is maximizing attendance at two of its most prominent state competitions, it’s absolutely necessary that the association does just that. The WIAA sponsors 22 sports, but only a few of those sports make money at the state tournament level.
There’s another part of the attendance issue, one that makes good sense to split the two sites. This past March, the two best-attended sessions at the boys tournament were in the 12-14,000 range. Neither of those crowds could have been accomodated at the Resch Center.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of the Kohl Center seats were empty during Championship Saturday of the girls tourney–partly, due to those aforementioned conflicts. Yet, the reality is that the girls tournament has been in an attendance decline for years. Moving to Green Bay (and a smaller venue) might very well give the girls tourney some added energy. If that happens, the WIAA could very likely keep that event in that city for the forseeable future.
One thing that won’t change: athletes, coaches, and teams will continue to work awfully hard to get to state–no matter where it is. We’ll all continue to enjoy that journey.
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on May 1, 2012