It's official: The Colonial Athletic Association is coming to Charm City. In 2014. For three years, so the CAA and the City of Baltimore announced on Wednesday.
As mentioned Monday, speculation moving the tournament away from its longtime home of the Richmond Coliseum has existed for some time, perhaps going all the way back to May when VCU announced its own departure plans from the CAA. With Towson as a conference member, Baltimore became an obvious option and now a reality starting in the 2013-14 season. According to the CAA, seven of the 10 schools participating in 2013-14 are within 250 miles of Baltimore.
“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.”
For many non-Richmond based fans, there is obvious excitement about the tournament being anywhere but Virginia's capital city, where the CAA began playing in 1990 and where hometown VCU had an obvious rooting advantage for years. Granted, VCU is no longer in the mix, but better to expunge all memories - after this season, anyway - than keep playing in a building that at times served as House of Horrors. Since joinning the confernece in 2001, Towson never reached the finals. Six times VCU eliminated George Mason from the CAA Tournament, including the last four.
The CAA's new home, 1st Mariner Arena, seats 11,800 for basketball and hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in 1995. 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.