MAAC and CRDA Working To Extend Basketball Tournament Deal
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is hoping to continue to make Atlantic City its home for its men’s and women’s conference basketball tournament.
The league is in the final year of a three-year deal with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall.
The league and city officials are in talks over a three-year extension, said Richard Ensor, commissioner of the league. The current deal ends after the 2022 tournaments.
“All signs are positive,” Ensor said during a conference call Wednesday.
Ensor said membership has endorsed the extension and school presidents are expected to discuss a possible agreement during their meeting Dec. 14.
CRDA and Spectra Venue Management are currently in conversations with the MAAC regarding a contract extension, CRDA officials said.
“We look forward to hosting the MAAC Basketball Championship in 2022 and working with them to finalize an agreement that will fill seats in Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall and enable both players and attendees to thoroughly enjoy all the amenities of the venue and Atlantic City in 2022 and beyond,” CRDA officials said.
Ensor hopes this coming season’s tournament, scheduled for March 8-11, will be more traditional than it was the past two.
As it stands now, fans will be required to show their proof of vaccination and wear masks at the event, Ensor said.
“Last season was challenging for teams and coaches,” Ensor said. “We are on a path to a normal year.”
The men’s and women’s tournaments moved to Boardwalk Hall in 2020 following a long run at The Times Union Center in Albany, New York.
The MAAC consists of 11 schools — Monmouth University, Rider University and St. Peter’s University in New Jersey; Siena College, Iona College, Niagara University, Manhattan College, Canisius College and Marist College in New York; and Fairfield University and Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.
The initial move was greeted by excitement from local basketball fans and officials, but the growing COVID-19 pandemic ended the event’s debut in the resort after three days.
Despite that, the 2020 MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championship still managed to attract 10,089 attendees, who generated 2,619 room nights and $3.7 million in economic impact.
This year’s event was played with just friends and family in the stands. All players and staff underwent daily polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 testing, which cost the league $200,000. Each team was given 150 tickets for friends and family to attend games.
“Last year, we brought 21 of our 22 teams,” Ensor said. “It was the first event since the pandemic. We could have easily moved to a campus site.”