Lady Rams fans will not have to go far to watch the women’s basketball team compete in postseason play this season.
Atlantic-10 Conference Commissioner Bernadette McHale announced earlier this month that the league brokered a three-year partnership with the city of Richmond to host its annual A-10 Women’s Conference Championship at the Richmond Coliseum beginning in spring of 2014.
“We selected Richmond because it gives us the ability to build on our record attendance from last year’s championship and provide a true March Madness environment for our women’s basketball student-athletes,” McHale said in a statement. “The opportunity to establish a long-term home for our women’s basketball championship and partner with the city of Richmond was one we could not pass up. This a true win-win partnership for everyone involved.”
VCU women’s basketball head coach Marlene Stolling said she was thrilled with the news.
“This provides many unique opportunities for the A-10, the growth of women’s basketball and the city of Richmond,” Stollings told VCURamnation.com.
The A-10 conference tournament will take place at the Richmond Coliseum starting March 5. The championship opens with a tournament entry game on March 5, followed by four first round games on March 6.
On March 7, the four quarterfinal games will be played. The semifinal round of games will air March 8 on CBS Sports Network. The tournament’s championship game begins March 9, and will be televised on ESPNU.
The Richmond Coliseum seats nearly 12,000 people. The Coliseum has hosted other league basketball tournaments in the past, including the 1994 NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Despite local neighbors in the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University, the A-10 Championship will be played at a neutral site for just the third time in its 32-year history come March 2014.
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones estimated the financial impact on the city will be roughly $2 million or more.
“I am so pleased to be welcoming the Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Championship to the city of Richmond,” Jones said in the official A-10 press release. “The A-10 is a phenomenal league and we are ready to welcome the players, the coaches, and the fan base to our great city. This tournament has a very strong following that will strengthen our sports tourism draw and keep the city on the radar for future prestigious tournaments.”
Last season, the first three rounds of the A-10 Women’s championship were held at Michael J. Hagan Arena ’85 at St. Joseph’s University. The tournament final took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Previously, Lowell, Mass. hosted the tournament in 2011 at the Tsonga Arena. Before that, Upper Marlboro, Md. hosted the tournament at the Showplace Arena in 2010.
The announcement comes just months after the Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Championship tournament moved to Baltimore. The CAA held the men’s tourney at the Coliseum from 1990 to 2013.