CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — For the third straight year, the America East Conference has chosen the University of Hartford as host for its Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. The league’s Athletic Directors made the decision to send the combined tournament back to West Hartford in 2012 during the conference’s annual meetings in Portsmouth, N.H. this morning.
“We are thrilled that our Basketball Championship, the conference’s signature event, will return to Hartford for a third straight year,” said America East Interim Commissioner Shonna Brown. “Our last two tournaments have been great experiences for our teams and fans and this will give us the opportunity to build off the excitement that has been established in Hartford and make the experience even better in 2012.”
The 2012 America East Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships will be held on March 1-4, 2012 at Chase Arena at the Reich Family Pavilion on University of Hartford’s campus. The first, quarterfinal and semifinal rounds for both the men and women will be held at the combined tournament, while the title games will again both be held the following weekend at the site of the highest seeds remaining.
“Being able to host the men’s and women’s basketball championship for a third-straight year is a unique opportunity,” said Patricia H. Meiser, Director of Athletics at the University of Hartford. “I am thrilled that the conference would like to continue to build off of the momentum from the past two conference championships held at Hartford. This opportunity is very much made possible because of the support from the campus and the community. Our arena provides a unique and fan friendly environment in hosting the championship and we look forward to welcoming all nine conference schools, their teams and their fans back to campus in March.”
Following the same format as the last two years, both first round games will be held Thursday, March 1, while the women’s quarterfinals will follow on Friday, March 2. The men’s quarterfinals will be scheduled for Saturday, March 3 and both the men’s and women’s semifinal tilts will take place Sunday, March 4. The highest seeds remaining in both the men’s and women’s tournament will host the championship games with the men’s title game on Saturday, March 10 and the women’s final tentatively set for that same day.
The last two America East Championships, which were presented by Newman’s Own, have drawn nearly 30,000 fans to Chase Arena at the Reich Family Pavilion, the University’s 3,508-seat facility. The last two tournaments have also featured the largest title sponsor in conference history in Newman’s Own, whose Foundation also sponsored a Campus Community Challenge, which has contributed more than $200,000 to organizations in America East communities over the last two years.
Prior to the combined format, which is in its third year, Hartford had hosted the America East Women’s Championship seven times in the previous eight years. The women’s championship had utilized a single-site format since 1998. Maine hosted the first single-site event, followed by University of Vermont in 1999, 2000 and 2001, and Hartford in 2002-06. The tournament traveled to Binghamton in 2007 before returning to Hartford in 2008 and 2009.
The America East Men’s Championship has utilized the present format of a single site for the first rounds, with the championship game played at the higher remaining seed since 1996. University at Albany’s SEFCU Arena hosted the tournament in 2009, while Binghamton University’s Event Center was the site of the championship in 2006 and 2008. Boston University hosted at Agganis Arena in 2007 and at Walter Brown Arena in 2003 and 2004, while the Terriers were a co-host in 2002 at Matthews Arena. The championship was played at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del. from 1996 to 2001.
Hartford has attracted more than 78,000 fans to championship games at Chase Arena since 2002. The Hawks also led the conference last season, drawing an average of 1,327 fans for women’s basketball games.
Ticket information for the 2012 championship will follow at a later date.