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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Jacks cut nets in their back yard, could Summit League Tournament ever visit Detroit?

South Dakota State was cutting the nets Tuesday afternoon and night in the school’s back yard. And next year, another team, South Dakota, will be entering the tourney field with dibs on home team status.
An unfair advantage many say of the fact the tournament has been held in Sioux Falls the past four seasons. Why doesn’t the tournament rotate like other conferences some ask.
The fact is, the event makes a lot of money in a city starved for pro sports teams, a factor unseen in some of the conference’s other markets. It also should be noted this year’s installment, powered by three games played by each of SDSU’s teams, set an attendance record.
So, would the Summit League Tournament ever visit Detroit? League commissioner Tom Douple said this week he’s fielded offers from other cities such as Fargo, N.D.; Sioux City, Iowa; Omaha, Neb.; Fort Wayne, Ind., and suburban Detroit about hosting tournaments.
However, the tournament is locked up for the next two years by its host city, which is adding a new events center to the its arsenal in time for bidding on future tournaments.
When the tournament was still being held in Tulsa, Okla., which last hosted in 2008, a bid was being prepared by Palace Sports and Entertainment in conjunction with Oakland, to lure the tourney to The Palace of Auburn Hills.  
“They were putting together a heck of a bid,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said at last week’s media day.   
“Then, ‘Disney On Ice’ was scheduled that week. Being that it’s their biggest moneymaker — I guess you could say we got screwed by Mickey Mouse.”
And how much money could the event be expected to draw to the area? This year’s event infused $1.5 million into Sioux Falls. The host committee estimated the league’s teams would split $115,000 of revenue.
The Grizzlies faced the Jackrabbits in last year’s semis in front of a full house of about 6,000 fans inside Sioux Falls Arena.
“Every seat was taken and everyone was wearing blue and yellow. I was scared,” Kampe said.  
“I knew that was the best team I had ever had. We had to play in that situation and it was unfair. … It needs to be there because that’s where it’s going to make the most money.
“From a financial standpoint, it needs to be there, but from a competitive spirit, it has to be rotated. It’s unfair to our fans to get on a bus and drive.”
The Jacks' men's team, however, hadn’t won the tournament in each of the previous three seasons (the women's team has indeed won all four "home" tournaments) the tournament was held down the interstate from campus.
Also, in the case of the Horizon League, whose tournament was hosted by finalist Valparaiso, you could argue the home court advantage doesn’t guarantee a win, as Detroit earned its first NCAA tournament berth since 1999 with a blowout win on the Crusaders’ home floor.
So Oakland fans are left to wonder: Which visits The Palace first — the conference tournament or U-D for the long-awaited rematch with Oakland? 


Blogger Rick Longsworth said...

I am an IPFW grad and booster living in Fort Wayne. I am tired of the Summit League tournament apparently being locked into Sioux Falls for the last few years and for the foreseeable future as well. I know money is king and with NDSU, USD, SDSU, and UNO in the region, I might as well get used to it. It might take a minor miracle to get the tournament out of there. I find that ironic since I bought tickets to attend the Mid-Con Conference tournament when it was played in Fort Wayne several years ago before it became the Summit League and IPFW became a member. There are other factors as well. Big in my mind is the apparent willingness of referees to swallow whistles in crunch time when apparent fouls are not called against the "home team" who has 6000 fans there. I would like to see the tournament return to Fort Wayne occasionally and suburban Detroit would be an improvement for sure because I have no interest in vacationing in South Dakota in the first week of March. Sorry if that offends anyone in SD.

March 17, 2012 at 10:48 AM 

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