MAAC basketball tourneys staying in Atlantic City for 3 more years through 2026

press of atlantic city
March 9, 2023

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ ( March 7, 2023) – March Madness will be staying in Atlantic City for the next three years.

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, or MAAC, announced Monday its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be held at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall through 2026.

This year’s tournaments start Tuesday, with the nationally televised women’s and men’s finals scheduled for Saturday. MAAC officials will detail their decision to stay in Atlantic City at a Boardwalk Hall news conference Tuesday.

“I am pleased to announce the selection of Atlantic City’s Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall as the site for the 2024-26 MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships,” MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor said in a release. “I want to thank all the facilities that bid to host the championships, which reflects the continued interest in the event and the value it brings to a host community.”

Atlantic City was competing with Albany, New York, and with the UBS Arena in Elmont, New York. The three-year extension will keep the tournaments at Boardwalk Hall in 2024, 2025 and 2026.

“We are excited for the opportunity to continue the relationship with the MAAC to host the men’s and women’s basketball championships for an additional three years,” said Jim McDonald, general manager of Boardwalk Hall for OVG360, a venue management firm.“Atlantic City and Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall will continue to provide a great destination and venue for the student-athletes, administrators and spectators.”

Jordan Confessor, senior associate commissioner/basketball for the MAAC, said, “We are excited to extend our relationship with Atlantic City and Boardwalk Hall. Jim McDonald and his team does a first-class job providing a meaningful experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans. We look forward to elevating our championships over the next three years.”

Ensor said last week the conference’s presidents wanted to have all 22 teams at one site for the tournament. That seemingly eliminated UBS, the home of the New York Islanders, which proposed only hosting the semifinals and final.

The MAAC originally signed a three-year deal with Boardwalk Hall that began in 2020, but the tournaments at the start never had a chance to show how big an attraction they could be in Atlantic City. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 tournaments shortly after they began, and attendance in 2021 was limited to family and friends. MAAC and Boardwalk Hall officials agreed to a one-year extension after the 2022 tournaments.

“As the host institution, Rider University is excited to partner with the MAAC and Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall to host the MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships in Atlantic City,” Broncs athletics director Don Harnum said in the release. “Personally, I would like to thank the committee who oversaw the process as well as Jim McDonald, general manager, for their diligent work and commitment to securing a positive future for this high profile NCAA Division I Basketball Championship.”

Rachelle Paul, the Saint Peter’s AD, said, “When we began discussing future MAAC Championship sites, we sought feedback from our student-athletes and basketball coaches about their championship experience. Overwhelmingly, the joint men’s & women’s format coupled with including all member institutions was largely favored. Atlantic City has been a great host in those areas, among many others, and we look forward to continuing our partnership.”

Saint Peter’s won the MAAC men’s tournament last season and became one of the nation’s biggest sports stories by making a run to the Elite Eight in the ensuing NCAA Tournament.

The Iona men and women are the top seeds in this year’s tournaments. Ensor sounded optimistic last week when he spoke about this week’s tournaments.

“Everybody is engaged and energized in Atlantic City,” Ensor said last week. “We have the school kids ready to come out. We’ve been reaching out to all the youth groups in the area. A lot of group sales have been going on. I think we’re going to see pretty crowds.”

Ensor said Boardwalk Hall projects 20,000 people will attend this week’s tournaments. He said he thought that could be on the low side.

“We’ll have to see,” he said. “I think it’s all about pairings and weather.”

By: Mike McGarry