Sept. 26, 2012
BARCLAYS CENTER WEBSITE
ATLANTIC 10 CHAMPIONSHIP PAGE
This Friday, Barclays Center, the new NBA arena in Brooklyn will open its doors for its inaugural concert. Less than a week later, those same doors will open for the building’s first college basketball event, providing “unlimited possibilities” for the Atlantic 10 Conference.
That’s what the Atlantic 10 Conference has in its partnership with Barclays Center. The league, which is the best basketball-driven conference in the country, will hold the first and last college basketball events in state-of-the-art building, providing basketball bookends to the arena’s first year of operation.
When the announcement of a five-year partnership was made in September of 2011, Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade said: "The opportunity to partner with the Barclays Center and bring the Atlantic 10 Basketball Championship to New York has unlimited possibilities. Our teams will compete in the newest, state-of-the-art facility within the Atlantic 10 footprint and the number-one media market in the country."
“Unlimited possibilities” means A-10 teams have the opportunity to play on the largest stage in the world like never before. It means the conference has the chance to grow the annual championship into a must-go event and not just a four-day tournament.
The league’s commitment to making the championship an experience was apparent last month, when it was announced that the facility would also host the A-10 Women’s Basketball Championship Finals. It will mark the first women’s basketball game in the new arena. The Atlantic 10 will send 12 teams to Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena at Saint Joseph’s for the opening round, quarterfinals and semifinals before taking the finals to the NBA arena for the first time in Conference history.
The 18,000-seat Barclays Center, located in the heart of Brooklyn on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenue had its ceremonial ribbon cutting last Friday. The building official opens this Friday with a concert by Jay-Z. But it’s next Thursday, October 4, when the building will host its initial basketball event – Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Media Day.
The annual media day is held in early to mid-October to give A-10 media the opportunity to speak with all 16 head coaches prior to the start of the season. This year will have a special twist however – the opening of a new building. The Atlantic 10 has held its media day in New York City for the last two years, including in Brooklyn last year. But this year, the league has the pleasure of tipping off the 2012-13 season by serving as the opener for a full slate of college basketball events in the building.
Fast forward to March, when the focus shifts to conference tournaments with coveted NCAA Tournament bids on the line. On NCAA Selection Sunday, the A-10 Men’s Basketball Championship, which begins with the opening round on March 14 in Barclays Center, will come to a close with the nationally televised finals. The four-day tournament, which includes the top 12 A-10 teams based on regular season conference standings, will feature four games in each of the first two days. The top four seeds get opening round byes, leaving the bottom eight seeds to play each other in an effort to advance to the quarterfinals. Those four winners play the top four seeds in the quarterfinals, with the winners advancing to Saturday’s semifinals. Those winners move onto the title game, which will air live on CBS.
"We are thrilled for Barclays Center to play host to one of men's basketball's most prestigious conference tournaments," Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said at the partnership announcement. "We appreciate our alliance with the Atlantic 10 as we position Barclays Center as a significant national collegiate sports venue."
Yormark’s comments about positioning the arena as a significant college sports venue are well on their way to fruition. By the time the Atlantic 10 Championship rolls around in March, the building will have had its share of pro basketball (as home of the Brooklyn Nets) and college basketball -- the arena is booked for several college basketball tournaments, some of which include A-10 teams. Duquesne will participate in the Legends Classic and has the potential to advance to the Barclays Center in the multi-site tournament. Fordham will play in the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival in December and Saint Joseph’s will play in the Coaches vs. Cancer annual event, which moves to Barclays this year.
So the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Championship will serve as the other basketball bookend. And barring postseason hosting duties by Barclays Center, that’s how it will be for the next five years, the length of the A-10 partnership.
But this is a true partnership. While the Atlantic 10 provides an anchor college basketball event for the arena, the move puts the A-10 in the largest media market in the world in front of an base of over 100,000 alumni from the Atlantic 10 membership.
“Moving the tournament to the basketball hot bed of New York City is a great move. I grew up, coached and played in Brooklyn, so I know the passion the fans there have for basketball. It’s a win for both sides, the conference gets to play in a beautiful new arena in a major market and Barclays Center gets to showcase compelling college basketball action in March from a quality league,” said CBS analyst and former Division I coach Pete Gillen.
And that move to the big stage is what provides the “unlimited possibilities.” The move drew praise from national media, with ESPN.com calling it a “no-brainer” and CBSSports.com labeling it a “smart move.”
“Basketball abounds in Brooklyn, and it's all thanks to the brand-new Barclays Center. There is a big-time hoops buzz in the media and for fans unlike any in recent memory. From the Nets to the Harlem Globe Trotters to college basketball, culminating with the Atlantic 10 Tournament in March,” said sports media consultant John Cirillo, President of Cirillo World and a professor of Media Studies at Fordham University.
So in an effort to become a premier college sports venue, Barclays Center gets a standout March basketball tournament with an NCAA automatic bid on the line and a loyal fan base with a large concentration in the New York metro area. The Atlantic 10 gets a long-term home for its Men’s Basketball Championship – and it’s Women’s Basketball title game – in the NBA’s newest arena in a historical hotbed of basketball. That’s a winning partnership for both sides full of unlimited possibilities.
Those possibilities begin next Thursday, Oct. 4 with Atlantic 10 Media Day. From there, the extraordinary opportunities are endless.