By Kaye Burnett | Editor in Chief
After three years of waiting, it’s finally here — PPG Paints Arena and the Dukes will partner this season to host the 2017 Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Championship for the first time in the history of the seven-year-old arena.
For the last two years, the tournament took place at the Barclays Center in New York City, but for 2017 and 2018, the space will be occupied by the Atlantic Coast Conference while the A-10s move southward. While this is the inaugural A-10 tournament for PPG Paints, its predecessor, the Civic Arena, was host to the A-10 precursor, the Eastern Eight Conference tournament, from 1978 to 1982.
The tournament will run March 8- 12, and has the potential to be a small but still significant boost for the Pittsburgh economy. According to a Forbes Magazine article from 2014, sporting events that attract fans from within driving distance are profitable for local hotels and restaurants. Of course, the A-10 tournament might not have the same draw as last year’s two opening rounds of the NCAA tournament, but players, coaches, family members and fans from fourteen teams will be staying in Pittsburgh for at least four days, spending money and giving a post-winter boost to Downtown’s economy.
It’s possible that the Dukes will get a performance boost from the arrangement as well, since PPG Paints is almost a “second home,” for the team, according to a 2015 Duke interview with head coach Jim Ferry.
“I think it’s great for the city. I think it’s great for the program,” Ferry told The Duke. “Consol’s been a great partner with us. It’s our second home across the street. We have our own locker room in there. I think it’s a great venue to host a conference tournament.”
In this upcoming season, the Dukes will have three chances to play on the PPG court — one against Pitt for the annual City Game on December 2, another against Robert Morris University on December 6 and a final chance against Dayton on February 17. With almost 16,000 more seats than Duquesne’s A.J. Palumbo Center, the PPG Paints arena will have plenty of room for the A-10 tournament crowds.
Next year, the tournament will move again to the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. before returning to Barclays in 2019.