Mar 1, 2014; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies forward Phillip Nolan (0) reacts with his teammates after a charge foul on Cincinnati Bearcats guard Sean Kilpatrick (23) in the second half at XL Center. UConn defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 51-45. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

XL Center In Hartford, Connecticut Will Host AAC Basketball Tournament In 2015

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American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco announced today that the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut will be the site of the 2015 AAC basketball tournament. The FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee was of course the location last season. It was a unanimous decision by the conference’s members to move the tournament to Hartford.

Keeping the location of the AAC tourney on a rolling schedule is a good idea. Unlike in the Old Big East with the connection to the enthralling Madision Square Gardens, the American’s options are a slew of venues with more localized importance. As such, moving the tournament around every year allows several cities with AAC connections to experience the excitement of hosting a series major college basketball games in their town.

The lingering question I have is if Cincinnati would ever be chosen to host the tournament. Fifth Third Arena would probably be out of the question but I’d wonder if US Bank Arena would be a viable option. They did just play a few NCAA Ice Hockey Regional Semifinal games there a couple of weeks ago. But would the AAC give the go ahead on the venue under its current conditions? I’m not sure but I have to believe the prep US Bank makes for the Republican National Convention in 2016 can only help its cause. Even so, I don’t know if it will be enough to convince UC’s fellow AAC members that the tournament should be held in the Queen City. A full scale renovation might be in order, which tacks on yet another reason why investing in US Bank Arena is a must for both the city of Cincinnati and UC.

The American’s full press release is below:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Commissioner Mike Aresco has announced that the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., has been chosen as the site of the 2015 American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship.

“We are pleased to bring our 2015 men’s basketball championship to the city of Hartford and to this outstanding arena,” said Aresco. “The success of UConn’s men’s and women’s teams this year has made Connecticut the center of college basketball nationally. This event will enjoy tremendous fan support and our visitors will enjoy the many attractions in Hartford and its surrounding communities.”

The XL Center has hosted a number of NCAA Championship men’s and women’s basketball games, was the site of the Big East Women’s Basketball Championship from 1994-2013 and previously served as a home site for the NBA’s Boston Celtics.

Aside from the many basketball events held at the XL Center, the facility is the home of the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League and hosted the NHL’s Hartford Whalers. The seating capacity for basketball at the XL Center is 16,294.

“Today’s announcement puts Hartford back in the basketball tournament business,” said Governor of Connecticut Dannel P. Malloy. “While this is great news for next year, I am even more excited for what this means in the future. I believe we can and should be in consideration for more NCAA tournament events, and I will continue to push to bring those games to our state. I want to thank the American Athletic Conference for making this decision.  I also want to send a message to college basketball fans everywhere – come to Hartford next March.  You won’t be disappointed.”

“We’re honored and proud to have been chosen to host this prestigious event,” said Global Spectrum’s Chris Lawrence, General Manager of the XL Center. “Through the commitment and unified approach of Global Spectrum, the Capital Region Development Authority, the city of Hartford and the downtown business community, we’re extremely excited and eager to showcase Hartford. Combined with our scheduled summer renovations and an ever-growing events calendar, the American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship will highlight a resurgent XL Center.”

Dates for the 2015 championship will be announced in the coming weeks.

All 11 American Athletic Conference schools will participate in the 2015 championship. The format calls for three first-round games on the first day, followed by four quarterfinal games, two semifinals and the championship game. The ESPN Networks will provide television and digital coverage of the tournament.

The 2014-15 season will be the second straight year in which the American Athletic Conference has the defending men’s and women’s NCAA champions in its ranks. The American was the only conference to place a team in the semifinals of the Men’s Final Four, the Women’s Final Four, the NIT and the WNIT this past season.

The American’s membership in 2014-15 will comprise UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa.

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