The Big Ten took a big step this past year when it held its conference tournament in Washington, D.C. for the first time. It marked the first time in league history the tournament was held outside either Chicago or Indianapolis, and next year the Big Ten Tournament will be heading to the Big Apple.
Whether you agree with it or not, the decision to move the tournament out east was huge for the league as it continues to expand its footprint. And it appears the league is again open to expanding its conference tournament to a few other locations.
This past week Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany left the door open on the Big Ten Tournament being held at some other new locations in the future.
“Detroit and Minneapolis and other cities should aspire (to host the Big Ten Tournament),” Delany said at the league’s joint spring meetings on Tuesday. “It’ll be the decision of the universities and the athletic directors. You know we’re a conference that is blessed by great sports fans, great cities, and I can’t tell you that it will happen, but I would encourage interested parties to seek it.”
The Big Ten Tournament is already locked in for the next few years but starting in 2023 there could be an opening for some other cities to host the five-day event. So that got me thinking of which cities and venues would be best for the Big Ten Tournament. Chicago and Indianapolis will always be the top two go-to choices but there are certainly some other great options in Big Ten country for the league to try out.
So with that I’ve compiled a list of five possible cities that could make great landing spots for the Big Ten Tournament in future years. Here are five possible destinations of future Big Ten Tournaments in order of most likely to actually happen:
Venue: Little Caesars Arena
Reasoning: This appears to be the most likely choice to host out of all the locations on this list for a number of reasons. First off, Delany mentioned it as one of the cities earlier this week so that bodes well already. Next you have a brand new venue with Little Caesars Arena opening this fall that is also already set to host a number of college basketball games this year. Finally, MLive reported that Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis is pushing for the league to choose Detroit as a future host city and if Hollis is pushing for it then there’s a strong chance something will come out of this. Detroit tops this list and I would be disappointed if it isn’t given a chance to host the Big Ten Tournament down the road.
Venue: Target Center
Reasoning: Minneapolis is a great possible destination for the Big Ten Tournament. The city has hosted so many big events in the past, such as Final Fours and Super Bowls, so this location would make sense for the league’s tournament. Plus you have two programs nearby in Wisconsin and Minnesota that should be solid in the years to come. That’s key in drawing high attendance numbers. Not to mention there is so many fun things to do in the city. This is probably the best tourist attraction city on my list and certainly deserves some attention from the Big Ten.
Venue: Quicken Loans Arena
Reasoning: Of all the choices this is probably my wildcard pick for hosting the Big Ten Tournament down the road. There hasn’t been any mentioning of Cleveland as a destination but it does fulfill the key check points needed. It has a large enough arena (capacity is 20,562), conference tournaments have been hosted there before (the Mid-American Conference annually hosts its conference tournament there) and it’s in a great area to attract large crowds (located in the heart of Buckeye country, who has arguably the largest fan base in the Big Ten). I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Big Ten Tournament is eventually hosted in Cleveland.
Venue: CenturyLink Center Omaha
Reasoning: If the Big Ten is fine with sending its conference tournament out east then why not out west? It only seems fair for the league to adopt this method but I don’t honestly see it happening. The CenturyLink Center Omaha has hosted NCAA Tournament games in the past and does in theory make sense for the league to host its conference tournament there. The Big Ten has also hosted its annual baseball tournament in Omaha twice and is scheduled to host it there from 2018-2022. The only issue is that it’s so far away from a lot of the other schools and with Nebraska yet to become a premier program in this league I worry about attendance numbers. Maybe way down the road Omaha gets a chance but for now I don’t see it happening.
Venue: PPG Paints Arena
Reasoning: This choice is a little bit out of left field but if the league is looking to continue its expansion out east then it makes sense. Pittsburgh is located close enough to Ohio State, Penn State and Maryland for easy road trips and would be a new city for the league to expand to. This is the least likely destination on my list because nothing has shown any indication that it’ll happen. But you never know with the Big Ten. Ten years ago no one would have anticipated the league’s conference tournament taking place in New York City either.