The 2019 Horizon League Tournament at Little Caesars Arena will be the final time the conference tournament is played in Detroit.
After four seasons in Detroit, the league office announced the tournament will be moving to Indianapolis starting next season and will be played at the current primary home venue for the IUPUI Jaguars mens basketball team – the Indiana Farmers Coliseum on the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
“This is an exciting time for the Horizon League as we have the opportunity to bring our championships to a new community that align with our mission, vision and core values,” Horizon League Commissioner Jon LeCrone said in a statement. “Indianapolis is a destination city located in the middle of our footprint and has a proven track record of success. We look forward to working with Indianapolis to produce a first-class and memorable experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans.”
The format for the tournament appears to be staying the same as this season with first round games being played on campus sites and the semifinals and finals being played at the “neutral” site which, going forward, will be in Indianapolis.
The decision to move the tournament to Indianapolis makes a lot of sense. It is where the league office is located as well as the headquarters of the NCAA. It is a city that is built to host events and is within a 5-hour drive for eight of the league’s ten schools. The arena itself is a more intimate venue seating 6,800 fans which is a much better fit than the 20,000 seat NBA arena the tournament was previously held at.
On the flip side, when the league announced its bid process it clearly stated that potential tournament arenas “may not be a primary home venue for a Horizon League member institution.” But the decision to use IUPUI’s home basketball arena for the tournament could create an unfair advantage for the Jaguars since they will have played at least 15 games there prior to the tournament compared to just one each for the rest of the teams in the league. It eliminates any sense of a true neutral site.
It remains to be seen whether a “neutral” site tournament location will work for the Horizon League. The conference’s ESPN television contract likely has the league locked in to a Tuesday night title game during the network’s Championship Week which affects any kind of flexibility the conference tournament could have as far as dates to make it more accessible for visiting fans to attend.
The deal to host the tournament in Indianapolis is for three seasons and runs through 2022.
Categories: Horizon League