Hartford wins bid to host 2015 AAC Tournament at XL Center
The XL Center in Hartford will play host to the 2015 American Athletic Conference Tournament. Hartford won the bidding out of a total of six candidates and the decision was announced on Monday by conference commissioner Mike Aresco.
The 2015 American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship will be played at the XL Center in Hartford, the conference announced Monday.
Commissioner Mike Aresco said that six cities bid for the 2015 tournament and that Hartford's bid was "outstanding."
According to Aresco, the members of the conference voted unanimously to have next year's tournament at the XL Center.
"We are excited and proud that the American Athletic Conference has chosen the XL Center as the site for next season's men's championship tournament," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "It will give more of our great fans in Connecticut a chance to watch the intensity and competitiveness of postseason play."
Aresco's announcement comes one week after UConn won its fourth national championship, defeating Kentucky 60-54 in the final after entering the tournament as a No. 7 seed.
One day later, the women's basketball team won its ninth national championship, marking the second time in UConn history - and in college basketball history overall - that both the men's and women's teams have won the national championship in the same season.
"We ultimately decided that in view of the excitement generated in Connecticut...this was the place for 2015," Aresco said.
The American will make a formal announcement at some point this week, but Aresco said that the men's basketball championship being in Hartford will not affect the location of the women's tournament, which could return to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville in 2015.
"There is enormous excitement in Hartford," Aresco said, "and with the UConn men's and women's national championships, Connecticut is now the center of the college basketball universe."
The inaugural tournament was held at the FedExForum in Memphis, and the conference had an option to renew for the 2015 season. But Aresco noted at the time that the tournament could move around for the first decade or so of the American's existence.
"We're developing rivalries and we're developing an identity for our conference," Aresco said.
With the inclusion of East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa for the 2014-15 season, the American's brand now includes New Orleans, Tulsa Okla. and Greensboro, N.C., the current site of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, to a group that already includes Hartford, Memphis, Cincinnati, Orlando, Philadelphia and Tampa.
Along with the decision for the location of the 2015 women's basketball tournament and a new bowl game involving the American, Aresco said that the conference could be ready to announce the location of the 2016 and 2017 men's basketball tournaments as early as Tuesday. Orlando is believed to be the frontrunner to get the tournament for both years.
That means UConn will likely only have the tournament for next year, and Hartford will "roll out the red carpet," according to UConn alumnus Andy Bessette, a board member of the Capital Region Development Authority. That red carpet includes a $35 million project to improve the XL Center, which includes an improved concourse, video boards, a new scoreboard and a fan area. The plan is for renovations to be done by Oct. 1, about two weeks before the UConn men's hockey team's first Hockey East game and one month before the college basketball season begins.
"We believe that our loyal UConn fans will once again fill the XL Center for our men's and women's basketball games in 2014-15 and that will continue during the 2015 American men's tournament," Director of Athletics Warde Manuel said.
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