The Colonial Athletic Association and the city of Baltimore have reached a three-year agreement to conduct the CAA Men's Basketball Championship at 1stMariner Arena beginning in 2014.
"We are excited to bring the CAA Men's Basketball Championship and March Madness to Baltimore," CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said. "Baltimore's renowned attractions will captivate our fans during tournament weekend and the electricity of championship college basketball will bring tremendous excitement to the area."
Baltimore provides a central location for the CAA Men's Basketball Championship. Seven of the CAA's 10 member schools are located within 250 miles of Baltimore and more than 370,000 alumni from CAA institutions reside within 100 miles of the city.
With its vibrant downtown waterfront community, Baltimore welcomes 22.3 million visitors annually. Baltimore is a walkable city that offers restaurants, shops, hotels, attractions and museums in close proximity of each other. There are more than 130 attractions to visit in Baltimore, including the National Aquarium which is located along the Inner Harbor.
The CAA Men's Basketball Championship has been held at the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Va. since 1990 and the arena will host the 2013 tournament on March 9-11. Total attendance at the championship has exceeded 42,000 for the past five years, including a tournament-record 47,833 fans in 2012. A recent study showed the CAA Tournament had a $5.8 million economic impact over four days.
"We appreciate the effort and resources committed by the city of Richmond, the business community and the staff at the Richmond Coliseum to promote our tournament," Yeager said. "They have been a terrific partner for the past 23 years and together we created many magic moments for our student-athletes, alumni and basketball fans in the area. However, conference realignments have shifted our fan base and geography and the move to Baltimore repositions the conference to maximize those changes."
1st Mariner Arena, which seats 11,800 for basketball, hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship in 1995. The venue was named the #1 arena in the United States by Billboard Magazine and Venues Today in 2009. It annually ranks among the top-five highest grossing arenas in the world for venues under 15,000 seats.
The first CAA Men's Basketball Championship in Baltimore will be held March 7-10, 2014. Future tournament dates are March 6-9, 2015 and March 4-7, 2016. The semifinals and finals of the CAA Men's Basketball Championship are televised nationally on the NBC Sports Network and all four quarterfinal contests are televised regionally by Comcast SportsNet and other CAA television partners.
CAA teams have combined to win 36 games in postseason play since 2006, including 13 victories in the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. During that seven-year period, the CAA has had two teams reach the NCAA Final Four (George Mason – 2006, VCU – 2011), one reach the semifinals of the NIT and has had squads capture championships of the CBI and CIT. The CAA has had at least five teams reach postseason play for the past four years.
Members of the CAA for 2013-14 include the College of Charleston (Charleston, S.C.), the University of Delaware (Newark, Del.), Drexel University (Philadelphia, Pa.), George Mason University (Fairfax, Va.), Hofstra University (Hempstead, N.Y.), James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.), the University of North Carolina Wilmington (Wilmington, N.C.), Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.), Towson University (Towson, Md.) and the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, Va.).
Comments on the CAA Men's Basketball Championship moving to Baltimore
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore:
"We are excited to host the CAA men's basketball tournament in Baltimore, for three years starting in 2014, and we look forward to welcoming thousands of attendees annually. Securing this event affirms the belief that Baltimore is a great host city for a variety of major sporting events, and we anticipate bringing more of them to the city."
Christian Johansson, Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development Secretary
"With their three-year commitment to hold the men's basketball tournament in Baltimore, CAA officials acknowledge what we've known – that Maryland has a long and proud tradition of supporting sporting events at every level. In professional sports and in college athletics, our state boasts successful sports teams and dedicated fans. We're pleased that the CAA has chosen our state for the men's basketball tournament and look forward to a long and successful partnership with the CAA, Baltimore City, Visit Baltimore and 1st Mariner Arena."
Tom Noonan, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore:
"We are proud and honored to welcome the CAA men's basketball tournament to Baltimore for three years starting in 2014. This will be Baltimore's big annual basketball event and is a great example of how partnership between Visit Baltimore, the City, 1st Mariner Arena and the state of Maryland can generate economic impact for the city."
Terry Hasseltine, Maryland Office of Sports Marketing Director
"The sports landscape in Maryland has once again achieved another outstanding milestone with the announcement that the 2014-16 CAA Men's Basketball Championships will be coming to Baltimore. We are extremely proud of the partnerships and working relationships we have forged in the process to bring this premier collegiate sporting event to Maryland."
Frank Remesch, General Manager SMG/1st Mariner Arena:
"As the Arena celebrates its 50th Anniversary, it seems only fitting that we announce the return of college basketball at the level of the CAA teams back to Baltimore and the Arena. We are proud to continue to bring ground breaking sports and entertainment to Baltimore; proud to continuing making history."