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MAC Basketball Tournament Will Stay in Cleveland Through 2023

Mid-American Conference and Quickens Loans Arena announce six-year extension that will keep March Madness in Cleveland.

Randy Carpenter

The road to an NCAA Tournament bid for the men's and women's basketball teams of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) will still go through Cleveland for the foreseeable future.  The Mid-American Conference and Quicken Loans Arena today announced a six-year contract extension that will keep both postseason tournaments in Cleveland through 2023.  The current contract runs through 2017.

The MAC first held the tournaments in Cleveland after the 1999-2000 season, shortly after the MAC moved their offices there from Toledo.  Quicken Loans Arena (formerly Gund Arena) has been the home for the tournaments the last 15 years.

The announcement was made today at a press conference held at Quicken Loans Arena.

‘The Mid-American Conference is pleased to extend its partnership with Quicken Loans Arena and the Cleveland Cavaliers to host our Conference Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament through 2023," said MAC Commissioner Jon A. Steinbrecher.  "This six-year contract extension provides our student-athletes and our fans the finest basketball facility in the country for our conference basketball tournament."

"Over the past 15 years, the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization has had a very special relationship with the MAC in helping grow this event," said Len Komoroski, president and CEO of the Cleveland Cavalier and Quicken Loans Arena.  "The energy and fun that MAC Madness generates inside The Q also impacts and extends the excitement outside the arena in many ways for our surrounding community."

The tournament also means big business for Cleveland.  A recent study suggests that as much as $14 million in economic impact is generated by the event.  "The MAC Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena has become a valued and impactful Cleveland tradition," said Dave Gilbert, president of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.  "The event produces tens of millions of dollars in economic activity and exposes our region's assets and strengths to thousands of basketball fans from around the Midwest each year."

Here are the reasons why I think the MAC is keeping the tournament in Cleveland:

Hard to beat an incumbent - The MAC has had a great run the last 15 years in Cleveland.  The first few years were especially filled with buzzer beaters and heart-stopping finishes.  The tournament has become a tradition for the folks in Cleveland.  The Commissioner mentioned that other communities always inquire about moving the tournament, but they really never considered any venue other than Cleveland.  Having the MAC offices just steps away from The Q also helps.

Built-in Fan Base - The Greater-Cleveland area is home to the largest contingent of MAC alumni in the country.  The Commissioner said more than 300,000 MAC alumni call the Cleveland area home.  Hard to go away from those kind of numbers.

Geographical Footprint - While Cleveland isn't exactly the center-point of the conference, it's close.  The commissioner said the actual center-point is just below Toledo.  It also helps that six MAC schools are located in the state of Ohio.  Cleveland is within 3 or 4 hours driving distance for all schools expect one (Northern Illinois).

NBA Facility - Playing at Quicken Loans Arena is a nice reward for MAC athletes.  It also comes tournament-ready from a production and media standpoint.  Other NBA facilities in MAC footprint are in Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis.  Other postseason tournaments call those cites home and Cleveland just feels like the MAC.

The 2015 MAC Men's and Women's Tournament will return to Quicken Loans Arena this year on March 11-14.  The men's and women's championship games will be played on Saturday, March 14, with the winners getting the MAC's automatic bid to their respective NCAA Tournament.