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ROSEMONT, Ill. — Big Ten officials expect to open bidding for future men’s basketball tournaments. That could include cities from New York City and Washington D.C. to Omaha and Des Moines.
“When the Chicago and Indianapolis contracts are up, there has been discussion about opening it up and making sure it’s competitive,” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said. “If Des Moines bids, great.”
Barta said Des Moines specifically was not discussed as a potential host. Questions about Omaha, which hosts the second and third rounds of NCAA competition next spring, also were fielded by reporters.
“Love it. Terrific,” Nebraska Athletics Director Shawn Eichorst said about Omaha hosting the Big Ten tournament. “We already host some good things in Omaha. I don’t see why we wouldn’t. If the opportunity presented itself, I’d imagine we’d try to put our best foot forward and put something out there.”
Next year’s Big Ten Tournament is held in Chicago, while the 2016 tournament heads back to Indianapolis. Washington D.C. will host the tournament in 2017.
“I think in the next 10 years it’s about 20 percent in the East and 80 percent in the Midwest,” Barta said.
BIG 4 CLASSIC FUTURE
Iowa’s four Division I basketball schools enter the third year of the Big 4 Classic this December. The games are held at Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena and are scheduled through 2015.
Barta said there’s been no discussion about either extending or ending the series.
“There’s a four-year contract so we have two years remaining,” Barta said. “That’s been very successful. I think all four of us would say it’s met expectations, lived up to what we’ve envisioned in terms of competitiveness, in terms of the fan base interest and excitement. It’s too early to talk about whether it would continue.”
The schools formerly played a round-robin format, but Iowa and Iowa State preferred to meet either Drake or Northern Iowa at a neutral site every two years rather than on campuses sites annually. This year the games are staged on Dec. 20 with Iowa facing Northern Iowa and Drake playing Iowa State.
“Clearly when we made the move to the Big 4, one of the big factors was that I had included was the fact that we had gone to 18 Big Ten games,” Barta said. “We had a Big Ten-ACC challenge. We came out with the Big Ten-Big East challenge. So it continues to factor in how I’m going to put a schedule together that gives our program a chance to compete for championships for both the Big Ten championship and deep into the NCAA. At this point we have two years left and there’s no discussion about whether we’re going to renew that or not.”
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