SEC chooses Nashville
Nashville will host the SEC men's basketball tournament nine times between 2015 and 2025, it was made official Tuesday.
Nashville's Bridgestone Arena will host the tournament in 2015-17, 2019-21 and 2023-25. ESPN previously reported in May that St. Louis and Tampa, Fla., would host an SEC tournament and it appears they will split the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.
Atlanta's Georgia Dome already had been awarded the 2014 tournament.
The deal also includes dates for three women's tournaments in 2018, 2022 and 2026.
"Our fans have made it clear to us they prefer a basketball arena, and so then it's a question of where," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Tuesday. "And we've had good experience here, and it's easy for our fans. You can get to the arena. You can stay in a hotel. You can go eat. And you can go listen to music and you only have to walk. In some ways, it's a perfect storm here."
In May at the SEC spring meetings, Scott Ramsey, president and CEO of the Nashville Sports Council, told ESPN that Nashville "would pursue" the SEC tournament "aggressively and host the tournament as many times as they will allow."
Nashville had previously been awarded the 2015, 2016 and 2019 tournaments.
Slive had said the reason the league was looking for a primary 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 in May.
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.
To make this long-term deal happen, Nashville officials had to work closely with the NHL's Predators, who have to block off up to nine days each March through the length of the contract, which means they could lose some home dates heading into the postseason.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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