Sports Council goes after more than SEC tournaments

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at 11:48pm

The Nashville Sports Council did more than celebrate Wednesday when it was announced that three future Southeastern Conference basketball tournaments would be held at the Sommet Center.

The organization went for more.

Executive Director Scott Ramsey said that the city submitted bids, in conjunction with the Ohio Valley Conference, to the NCAA men’s basketball committee for the 2011 and 2012 NCAA tournaments. He said decisions on those sites would be made at a meeting later this year.

Estimates are that the local economy can expect $30-35 million in ‘direct spending’ from college basketball tournaments over the next four years, beginning with the 2010 SEC men’s event, which previously was awarded to Nashville, and — as of Wednesday — followed by the 2011 and 2012 SEC women’s tournaments and the 2013 SEC men’s tournament. It will be the first time since 1999 and 2000 (Chattanooga) the women’s tournament will be held in the same place in consecutive years.

That projected financial impact does not include the approximately $25 million anticipated from the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four.

“It’s really going to be a great five-year run leading up to the Women’s Final Four ,” Ramsey said. “… We’ve worked awful hard to make this (a basketball destination) on an annual basis.

“I think the environment that can be created downtown with a very compact hotel, entertainment and venue are is what sets us apart.”

The SEC announcement had a direct impact on the Sports Council’s attempts to lure NCAA men’s events.

The NCAA asked for bids for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013. The fact that the 2013 SEC men’s event was awarded to Nashville negated any attempt to land an NCAA event that year because it would require the Sommet Center’s primary tenant, the Nashville Predators, to be out of the building for two consecutive weeks.

Nashville’s 2011 and 2012 bids were for the first and second rounds, and the regionals.

“I would expect that if we get anything, it will be the first and second rounds because of the size of the building,” Ramsey said. “The trend has been to go with larger buildings for the regional.

“Plus, I think we’re a better fit for the first and second rounds. … Geographically, we give them a lot of flexibility in bringing teams in.”

In addition to OVC tournaments, which have been held in the city for 15 consecutive years, Nashville also has had an additional event — either the SEC or NCAA — every year except one since 2000. That now will continue to be the case through at least 2014.

The OVC is scheduled to play in the Sommet Center in 2010, but likely will move to Municipal Auditorium in 2011 and 2012 to accommodate the SEC women’s events.