The Southeastern Conference is taking its 2016 women's basketball tournament to a new horizon.
Whether it goes back to its roots in 2017 remains unknown.
The SEC on Wednesday awarded its 2016 women's tournament to Jacksonville, which will mark the first time the event will be held in Florida. It will take place in Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, a multipurpose arena that can seat 15,000 and hosted the NCAA men's tournament in 2006 and 2010.
"We look forward to showcasing our women's basketball programs in the Sunshine State for the first time," league commissioner Mike Slive said in a released statement. "Our student-athletes, coaches and current fans will greatly enjoy their visit, and the exciting games will forge new fans of SEC women's basketball in the process."
Next year's SEC women's tournament will be held in North Little Rock, Ark., while the 2018, 2022 and 2026 tournaments are set for Nashville.
The SEC has expressed an interest in hosting future events in Chattanooga's McKenzie Arena, which housed it seven times from 1993 to 2000. No other location has hosted the SEC women's tournament as often.
"With this announcement today, I would imagine we would start receiving some communication from the SEC office giving us a little bit of direction on where we need to go in order to secure the tournament for a multiyear deal," Chattanooga Sports Committee president Tim Morgan said Wednesday. "If we're going to exert the energy to do this, then we want a multiyear deal. The more the merrier, because when you host an event like this, you only get better.
"You figure out how to make your community better in the eyes of the in-user, whether it's the participants or the ticket holders."
The biggest commitment Chattanooga would have to make for the SEC to return is the installation of a new four-sided, center-hung video board. UTC athletic director David Blackburn recently said that high-grade boards found at NBA and major-college venues are unrealistic from a financial standpoint but that attractive lesser-quality boards can be purchased for $750,000.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...