SEC commissioner Mike Slive announced in May that the conference wanted a primary site to host its men’s basketball tournament.
Nashville has gotten the nod.
Bridgestone Arena will host the SEC men’s tournament nine times and the women’s tournament three times from 2015 to 2026, a source told The Tennessean, giving Nashville an SEC basketball tournament for 12 consecutive years.
An SEC press release stated a “historic announcement” would come at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena with Slive, Nashville mayor Karl Dean, Bridgestone Arena and Nashville Predators president/COO Sean Henry, and Nashville Sports Council president/CEO Scott Ramsey in attendance.
Leslie Claybrook, SEC assistant commissioner of championship operations, said no one from the league was available to comment on Monday. Dean’s office and Ramsey declined comment as well.
Nashville had already been awarded the men’s tournament for 2015, 2016 and 2019. St. Louis (2017), Tampa (2018) and Atlanta (2020) are expected to fill the three years the men don’t come to Nashville, and Atlanta also will host the 2014 men’s tournament.
“We’ve been very successful with our permanent (championship game) site in football in Atlanta,” Slive said at the annual SEC spring meetings. “We’ve been very successful in our permanent site in Hoover (Ala.) in terms of baseball, so the athletics directors felt it was time for us to explore the possibility of a primary site for the men’s basketball tournament.”
Nashville was considered the frontrunner for its central location among SEC universities, the size of the city and the rave reviews it received after past tournaments. The completion of the Music City Center and the addition of more downtown hotels enhanced the city’s profile.
Bridgestone Arena hosted the SEC men’s basketball tournament in 2001, 2006, 2010 and 2013. It hosted the women’s tournament in 2002, 2004, 2008, 2011 and 2012. The NCAA Women’s Final Four comes to Nashville for the first time in 2014.
“Kentucky fans will love it,” said Thomas Beisner, host of Kentucky Sports Television’s weeknight show across the state. “Nashville has always been great to UK — not just the SEC Tournament, but when UK has played in the Music City Bowl.
“The town is blue, almost, as it is with most SEC tournaments, but it’s very convenient. It works very well for that type of event with lots of stuff to do downtown. It’s very accommodating. It almost becomes an extension of Lexington.”