You thought this post was going to be about a certain school in the Lowcountry, but there is another hot-button issue for the league, which is likely to be settled in the next few months. It could produce a significant change for the CAA, and some feel it has been a long time coming.
The CAA has held its championship tournament at the same location since 1990; for 23 straight years, the conference has set up shop for its marquee event at the Richmond Coliseum. The only league with a longer run at a single location is the Big East with its tournament played at Madison Square Garden.
With VCU’s recent exit from the league, there’s a reasonable chance that the CAA’s Richmond location is about to change following the 2013 event, and there are several contenders for the hosting privileges.
Top Five Locations for 2014 CAA Championship
First Mariner Arena
Not only does Baltimore’s First Mariner Arena boast a prime location for the CAA tournament, it is also capable of housing a few more fans than the Richmond Coliseum, making it the top contender for this season’s tournament location.
- Seats 12,500 fans, holding 500-600 more people than the Richmond Coliseum
- Central location for a majority of the CAA conference
- Located close to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, a great place to shop, eat, explore and visit
- Public transportation is readily available for fans, including Baltimore’s Metro and Light Rail systems
- The arena has accessible seating and elevators for fans who may need accommodations
- Because Baltimore is a large city, there is a wide variety of restaurants, tourist attractions, night life and hotels
- Moving the tournament to a central location such as Baltimore may draw more fans who have not attended the tournament in the past
- A tournament held in Baltimore would be the first CAA championship held outside of the state of Virginia for a league that by next year will boast just three Virginia schools
- Generally, there is traffic on the majority of highways entering the city
- March may prove to be too cold to fully enjoy some of the Inner Harbor’s tourist attractions
- VCU has left the CAA, taking with it a dominant fan presence at the annual tournament. This leaves uncertainty as to who will show up for a tournament held in Baltimore in the hopes of maintaining what has been a near sell-out event each year. A majority of Towson fans, perhaps?
The city of brotherly love is home to one of the most historic basketball arenas in the country. Often referred to as “The Cathedral of College Basketball” and “the birthplace of college basketball”, the Palestra has hosted more postseason NCAA men’s basketball games than any other arena in the country. Postseason play in such a historical venue would definitely be an event to remember for the CAA.
- Seating is close to the action, with bleachers extending all the way to the court
- The history of this arena has the potential to bring a lot of energy and excitement to this tournament
- Although it has less seating than Richmond, a tighter squeeze for fans may add to the atmosphere of the games
- There is no shortage of hotels, restaurants, shopping and tourist attractions in the city of Philadelphia … and don’t forget, they have Philly cheese steaks
- The location may be a hike for some of the southern fans accustomed to the Richmond destination, but it is pretty central to a majority of the teams
- Holds less than the Richmond Coliseum with room for only 8,722 fans
- An old arena, built in 1927, may create issues with today’s emphasis on technology. The media need the correct accommodations to ensure that they are able to do their jobs, and The Palestra may prove to be inconvenient for these purposes
- The building lacks amenities and space for some of the extra areas that usually go along with the tournament
- This location may create complications for those organizing the tournament because of the distance from the CAA’s Richmond offices
The PNC Arena, located in Raleigh, North Carolina, can hold up to 19,722 fans. No doubt, this is a big step up from Richmond’s capacity. The arena is currently home to North Carolina State’s men’s basketball team and the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. It is a fairly new facility and can hold a large number of fans, but the location may not be ideal for a majority of the CAA teams. If fans are willing to make the trip, this may be a great location for some tournament action.
- The capacity is significantly larger than The Richmond Coliseum
- Has elevators, escalators and additional services for fans who need accommodations
- No need to stress over public transportation because there are over 8,000 designated parking spaces for those who plan on attending the tournament … however, there is also available public transportation for individuals who wish to avoid the hassle of parking
- Raleigh is the second largest city in North Carolina, offering many hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions for visiting fans
- Raleigh-Durham International Airport is close by for those looking to fly
- The average temperature in Raleigh during the month of March is 63 degrees, weather comfortable enough to enjoy the city
- Because it is a bigger, more popular arena, it may be an expensive venture
- The location may not draw as many fans as hoped because it is not central to a majority of the CAA teams
The Scope holds less than Richmond at 10,253 fans and, having been opened in 1971, is one of the older venues on the list. The arena is a popular location for concerts and is home to the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals. More importantly, it has some history holding basketball events such as various tournaments, the McDonald’s All-American Game and all-star games.
- Norfolk is the second-largest city in Virginia with rich history and much to explore
- The Scope is located in the city close by plenty of hotels, restaurants and shopping for those fans making the trip
- The city is situated along the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and is a short drive to the Atlantic Ocean. If the weather cooperates, this creates many opportunities for activities such as fishing
- Amtrack provides a stop in Norfolk, and there is also public transportation services like light rail, bus and ferry
- Norfolk is located next to Virginia Beach, but unfortunately it will be too cold to take a dip in the ocean
- Holds around 1,500 less fans than Richmond does
- There is an airport in Norfolk, but it is small
- Parking at The Scope fills up quickly, but there is always public transportation and parking throughout the city
The Richmond Coliseum holds 11,992 fans and has been the home for the CAA tournament for 23 consecutive years. In the past, the venue was likely to be filled with avid VCU fans. This is no longer the case, as VCU has left the CAA. The question that now remains is whether or not The Coliseum would draw as many fans at this location with its “home” team no longer present.
- The CAA’s headquarters is located in Richmond, making it that much easier to plan the tournament
- Because the CAA has hosted the tournament in the same location for nearly 30 years, they have organizing the event down to a science
- Keeping the event in Richmond will save the CAA money, particularly with factoring in time and travel
- Richmond is the state capital of Virginia and is central to many historical attractions within just an hour’s drive
- There are many restaurants, hotels and shopping in the area for visiting fans
- The tournament has been held here for 23 years straight, so a change in scenery may be nice
- VCU has left the CAA and it was often their fans filling the stands in Richmond
- Richmond’s airports are smaller, often meaning more expensive flights into and out of the area
- While there are things to do in Richmond, the availability of leisure activities and food in the immediate vicinity of the Coliseum has always been a concern
Housing up to 20,282 people, The Verizon Center would have more than enough room for CAA fans. Although filling these stands may be difficult, remember that many of the league’s players and fans are from the DC/Metro area. This may create one of the greatest turnouts for any CAA tournament hosted to date. Not to mention, students home on spring break during tournament time would have an easy opportunity to attend a game and enjoy the city. The expenses would be significantly higher than other venues, but there is no doubt that nation’s capital would be an exciting location for a CAA championship.
COLLEGE PARK, Md.
The Comcast Center houses 17,950 fans and is home to the University of Maryland men and women’s basketball teams. Located right off of the Capital Beltway, College Park is populated area that will be sure to have many accommodations for those making the trip. It is close to Washington D.C. for anyone interested in making the day trip. Behind the Verizon Center, the Comcast Center is the second-largest arena in the DC area, so it will have no problem fitting media and CAA fans.
John Paul Jones Arena
Last on the list of long-shot locations is the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville is a quick drive from Richmond, benefitting those organizing the event from the CAA offices. Additionally, it is not that far of a trek for many of the teams in the conference. The venue holds 14,593 fans and is home to the University of Virginia Cavaliers men and women’s basketball teams. JPJ opened in 2006, making it one of the newer venues among those previously listed. If this venture were possible, Charlottesville would be a prime location to host the CAA Championship tournament for fans and organizers. There are two key issues related to the Comcast Center and the JPJ. First, would the CAA hold its marquee event on the floor of another school in another conference? Second, the CAA tournament has historically been a week earlier than other tournaments, meaning Virginia or Maryland could still have a home game that weekend.
Send us your feedback. Did we miss one? Where would you like to see the tournament held?