Since beginning play in 1995, Conference USA has held its annual basketball tournament in a variety of locations within the league’s footprint. Memphis, while the Tigers were a member of the conference, hosted more than any other city but also on the list of host cities through the years are El Paso and Birmingham. Tuesday it was announced that the men’s and women’s tournaments will return to Birmingham in March, with that city hosting the event for just the second time.
The games, to be played from March 11 to March 14, will be played at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center and Bartow Arena with the latter facility being UAB’s on-campus building. Last year’s conference tournaments were played in El Paso. Birmingham beat out four other cities in the bidding process.
“We are very excited to be able to showcase our basketball teams in Birmingham, they will be tremendous hosts,” C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said in the release announcing the decision. “We also were excited to learn about the great opportunities our other communities represent, each did a great job with the proposals and we have wonderful options for 2016 and beyond.”
Of the 19 conference tournaments that have been played 16 have been held in cities that no longer have members in Conference USA, a clear indicator of the impact of realignment on the composition of the league. Will the conference continue to make the hosting decision on an annual basis? Or will the members eventually look to find one “home” capable of hosting the tournaments every season?
Those are questions to consider moving forward, and should the carousel that is realignment come to a halt it will likely be easier for the members to provide the answers.