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Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Nashville eager to be SEC's home

By Brett McMurphy

DESTIN, Fla. -- If the Southeastern Conference is looking for a regular home for its men's basketball tournament, Scott Ramsey says Nashville, Tenn., is ready.

Ramsey, president and CEO of the Nashville Sports Council, told ESPN that Nashville "would pursue it aggressively and host the tournament as many times as they will allow."

SEC commissioner Mike Slive says league athletic directors voted unanimously to "authorize the conference to explore a primary site for the men's basketball tournament."

Nashville already has been awarded the 2015, 2016 and 2019 tournaments. Atlanta will host the 2014 tournament.

The SEC already has accepted bids for the 2017, '18 and '20 tournaments. Those are expected to be awarded to St. Louis (2017), Tampa, Fla., (2018), and Atlanta (2020), sources said.

St. Louis will become the farthest northern city to host the SEC men's basketball tournament, which has been held for 80 years. The addition of Missouri to the SEC last season was the key factor in the SEC tournament choosing St. Louis' Scottrade Center in 2017, sources said.

As far as Nashville's chances as the SEC's "primary" tournament host, Ramsey believes Bridgestone Arena would be a perfect site. The arena also will host the 2014 Women's Final Four.

"I will follow-up with the conference staff when they are ready to talk about it," Ramsey said. "We are going to pursue the SEC tournament very aggressively and feel good about what we have to offer. I'd be interested to see what they mean by 'primary' instead of 'permanent.' "

Slive said the reason the league is looking for a regular home for its men's basketball tournament is because of the success of the league's permanent sites in football (Atlanta) and baseball (Hoover, Ala.).

"The athletic directors felt it was time for us to explore the possibility of a primary site for the men's basketball tournament," Slive said.

The first SEC men's tournament was held in 1933. Since then, the event has been held in 11 cities: Atlanta; Baton Rouge, La.; Birmingham; Knoxville, Tenn.; Lexington, Ky.; Louisville, Ky.; Memphis, Tenn.; Nashville; New Orleans, Orlando, Fla.; and Tampa.