St. Louis is centrally located. It's not far from Mizzou, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vandy, and Ole Miss. That's half the league right there. Also, the St. Louis metro area as 2.5M people and they are known to support basketball. Attendance would be high.
Last month, Missouri athletic director Mike Alden came out in favor of Kansas City bidding to land and host a future SEC basketball tournament. At the time, we said KC was on the far side of the state and far from all SEC teams not named Arkansas or Mizzou. We suggested St. Louis would be a better fit for a Show-Me State tourney.
Now Alden is backing one of those, too:
“The SEC Tournament is going to be up for bid in 2017 and 2018, which I made sure that Frank Viverito and Dave Peacock (St. Louis Sports Commission members) know. No reason why St. Louis can’t bid on having the SEC tournament here as well as the Missouri Valley Tournament.”
As we wrote last month, the SEC would be wise to award its tourney to a select group of host cities. As the league learned from its tourney in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2009, taking the highest bid doesn’t necessarily guarantee good ticket sales or filled seats during national TV broadcasts.
In our view, Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans are all either centrally-located, tourist destinations, or both. Those four cities should be part of any SEC Tournament rotation.
Then if the league wants to bid out a tourney every now and then to St. Louis, Houston or even Kansas City to appease the newest members of the league, fine. (The chance to nosh on some toasted ravioli at Rigazzi’s on The Hill is A-OK with this writer.) But the league had better not bid tourneys out to the Hinterlands with too much regularity lest it damage its hoops reputation further via empty courtside seats shown during game after game on national television. Because regardless of what the folks in KC, STL or Houston say, there wouldn’t be 10 people attending a Thursday afternoon first-round game between South Carolina and Auburn in any of those joints.