Minneapolis added as host location for Big Ten basketball tournaments

The Big Ten adds Minneapolis as the host city for the basketball tournaments beginning in 2023.

Minneapolis will host the women’s Big Ten basketball tournament in 2023 and the men’s and women’s tournaments in 2024. All three events will take place at Target Center, the site of the women’s fourth final, earlier this month. In 2019, Minneapolis hosted the men’s four-way final at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“This is a huge opportunity to imprint our Big Ten, our fan base, not just in Minneapolis but in Minnesota, and nationally and regionally,” Big Ten Deputy Commissioner and Chief Sports Officer Diana Sappaw told ESPN. “Minneapolis is going off to host their fourth women’s final this year. They recently hosted a four men’s final, and they just have a phenomenal city basketball mentality with their two professional teams. So we are really excited to bring that to a new location and to give the other 10 major cities the opportunity to host our high profile events.”

The Big Ten also announced Wednesday that its championship football match will remain in Indianapolis in 2023 and 2024. The 2022 game was previously announced for Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, which has hosted every major football tournament since the event began in 2011. Ten also previously announced that the 2023 men’s basketball tournament will be held in Chicago at the United Center.

The men’s Big Ten basketball tournament, launched in 1998, has alternated between Chicago and Indianapolis for most of its existence, hosting Washington in 2017 and New York the following year. The 2017 and 2018 events drew some criticism for their locations, especially the New York event, which took place a week earlier than usual to accommodate the Big East Championship at Madison Square Garden.

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The women’s basketball tournament, which became an annual event in 1995, has been held at various locations in Indianapolis in all but three years. The event went to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2001 and suburban Chicago in 2013 and 2015.

Although the women’s and men’s 2023 tournaments will be held in different cities, Sabao said the league sees value in having both events at the same location on back-to-back weekends in March.

“The future is wide open for the possibilities of our tournament venue and tournament games, based on a competitive bidding process that works well for our memberships and fan base,” said Sabao.

She added that the Big Ten accepted final bids for the Final Events cycle in Spring 2021 before allowing its members to determine the winning spots. The league has submitted proposals for its soccer tournament from several cities within its reach, including some outdoor stadiums.

“We definitely want to make sure that we keep health and well-being first, and we played in the tournament for our student-athletes, so that was our first concern,” Sabao said. “And then, we actually reviewed the pros and cons of that with our management.”

The Big Ten is seeking shorter hosting agreements for the soccer and basketball tournaments, in part to encourage bids from more cities and regions. Indianapolis has yet to bid on the Big Ten in 2024, with the city hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament later in March.

“We are delighted to bring high-profile conference events such as the Big Ten Football Championship game and the Big 10 basketball tournaments to global cities and venues within our conference attendance range,” League Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “Both Indianapolis and Minneapolis have a strong history and tradition of hosting some of the world’s leading events in cities that feature an exceptional base of Big Ten alumni and fans. We look forward to creating new memories and experiences for our student-athletes, coaches, and member organizations, to expand our fan base, and forge relationships with the community of business, promoting a positive and lasting impact on these cities.”

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