Big South hoops tourney finally finds a home on Strand

Welcome to the Grand Strand for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments.

I’ve been waiting nearly two decades to say that phrase, and the Big South has been waiting even longer to land on the Grand Strand. From the time I moved to Myrtle Beach in 1995 there were rumors of bringing the hoops tournaments on the beach, but it always seemed to slip through the cracks like sand on the boardwalk.

Over the past 26 years, the Big South men’s tourney has bounced around to 10 cities and countless sites, including the woeful practice of home games for higher seeds that prevent the tournament from being the big season-ending spectacle it should be. Merging the men’s and women’s tourneys is a double bonus for the Big South.

From the early tournament sites in Savannah, Anderson and Rock Hill, nowhere seemed to stick. The brand-new North Charleston Coliseum showed promise in 1993-94 in terms of a quality host city and facility, but the 14,000-seat monster swallowed the small crowd. Spectators were even forced to sit on the same side opposite the ESPN cameras.

I arrived just in time for the four-year stretch in Lynchburg, Va., home of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and exactly zero Hooters restaurants because the ultra-conservative town found it in poor taste (I assume they were talking about the wings). Although we did have some hilarious poker parties in the hospitality room.

The Vines Center was a good fit, although the crowds were 90 percent fans of the Flames, but getting outsiders to take a winter break in Sinless City was a hard sell. So around and around it moved – Asheville, Roanoke, Radford and even CCU’s cracker-box Kimbel Arena. ESPN viewers thought they were watching a game in a high school JV gym.

The use of home sites for the tournament was a black eye for Big South basketball and was a real hinderance to landing a lucrative TV contract. There’s nothing like having all your teams slug it out for the NCAA Tournament bid under the same roof. Many have played host to the tourney over the years, but it never seemed to find a home.

All along the Grand Strand was atop everyone’s wish list. The Myrtle Beach Convention Center was the target destination but the community couldn’t deliver the title sponsor to land the tourney. There was a lot of tall talk around town about investing in sports tourism on the Strand but no one willing to write a fat check.

Enter the HTC Center and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, which seized the opportunity to capitalize on the national air time the tournament will receive. In addition to bringing fans to the beach for the tourney, the chance to blast scenes of the beach to viewers suffering from the winter-time blues is sure to pay dividends.

The real winner is the Big South, which finally offers its fans a great place to visit and to watch the games. The 4,200-seat HTC Center is an ideal venue for the mid-major conference and the close proximity to Myrtle Beach gives guests the opportunity to turn the tournament into a vacation. And, as the tourism theory goes, maybe they’ll come back.

The Big South tourney is, at least two more times. The three-year deal allows all parties to re-evaluate after the 2014-15 tourney. But barring a CCU move to another conference, my money says this event sticks around in the Grand Strand sand for many years to come.

Comments

comments

Coastal upsets Clemson, marches on to Sweet 16

Coastal upsets Clemson, marches on to Sweet 16Martin Melchor scored two goals and had an assist while [more]

CAC swimmers dominate podium at regional meet

CAC swimmers dominate podium at regional meetPalmetto Aquatics (PALM) hosted the 2017 Thanksgiving Invite Meet on [more]

Coastal repeats as SBC champ, awaits NCAA foe

Coastal repeats as SBC champ, awaits NCAA foeThe Coastal Carolina volleyball team defeated #2 Texas State in [more]

Local hoops season tips off with two girls tourneys

Local hoops season tips off with two girls tourneysWinter might still be a month away, but the high [more]

Gamecocks net fifth place in Puerto Rico Tip-Off

Gamecocks net fifth place in Puerto Rico Tip-OffSouth Carolina men's basketball coach Frank Martin claimed his 100th [more]

Cuthbertson's career-high 31 points lead Chants' win

Cuthbertson's career-high 31 points lead Chants' winZac Cuthbertson torched the nets for 31 points in leading [more]

Chants handle Vandals, score first Sun Belt win

Chants handle Vandals, score first Sun Belt winIdaho scored on the opening possession of the game but [more]

Saints open season with wins, reach tourney final

Saints open season with wins, reach tourney finalThe Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach boys basketball team opened [more]

CCU men fall to Vermont; Lady Chants blast UNCW

CCU men fall to Vermont; Lady Chants blast UNCWZac Cuthbertson scored a game-high 23 points and had another [more]

Lady Chants spike Wolves, reach Sun Belt title game

Lady Chants spike Wolves, reach Sun Belt title gameThe Coastal Carolina volleyball team is making its second straight [more]

Chiefs stumble at Stags, suffer first loss of season

Chiefs stumble at Stags, suffer first loss of season North Myrtle Beach's record-setting season came to an end Friday [more]

Chants land in Bahamas with hot hand for hoops

Chants land in Bahamas with hot hand for hoopsFour players reached double digits for Coastal Carolina in the [more]

Gamecocks bounce back, blow out UTEP in Conway

Gamecocks bounce back, blow out UTEP in ConwaySouth Carolina's debut in the Puerto Rico Classic at the [more]

Beach Ball Classic lineup has big names, top teams

Beach Ball Classic lineup has big names, top teamsThe 2017 Beach Ball Classic announced its schedule for the [more]

Coastal shuts out Mercer, advances to face Clemson

Coastal shuts out Mercer, advances to face ClemsonFrantzdy Pierrot teamed up with Martin Melchor to give the [more]

Chants go west in quest for first Sun Belt victory

Chants go west in quest for first Sun Belt victoryThe Coastal Carolina football team (1-9, 0-6 Sun Belt) will [more]

Redbirds top Gamecocks in opener of PR Tip-Off

Redbirds top Gamecocks in opener of PR Tip-OffThe South Carolina men's basketball team has home court of [more]

CCU men, women suffer narrow six-point losses

CCU men, women suffer narrow six-point lossesJaylen Shaw scored 17 points, but it was not enough [more]

CCU nets honors, enters SBC tourney as top seed

CCU nets honors, enters SBC tourney as top seedThe Sun Belt Conference announced its final weekly volleyball awards [more]

Chants win Sun Belt title, face Mercer in NCAA tilt

Chants win Sun Belt title, face Mercer in NCAA tiltCoastal Carolina men's soccer team gathered in the athletics field [more]

Golf: SJ's White inks deal; CF's Spencer closes strong

Golf: SJ's White inks deal; CF's Spencer closes strongSt. James High golfer Jordan White made her first hole-in-one [more]

Gamecocks invade Strand to compete in PR Tip-Off

Gamecocks invade Strand to compete in PR Tip-OffFresh off its first Final Four appearance, South Carolina travels [more]

Riptides Racing swimmers dive in for rare double dip

Riptides Racing swimmers dive in for rare double dipRiptides Racing team had a busy weekend with two squads [more]

Youth Soccer: BUFC, Coast claim four championships

Youth Soccer: BUFC, Coast claim four championshipsSixteen Coast  FA teams entered the Adidas Clash in Greensboro, [more]

CCU volleyball captures Sun Belt title, No. 1 seed

CCU volleyball captures Sun Belt title, No. 1 seedThe Coastal Carolina volleyball team clinched the number one overall [more]

Coastal upsets Clemson, marches on to Sweet 16

Coastal upsets Clemson, marches on to Sweet 16Martin Melchor scored two goals and had an assist while [more]

CAC swimmers dominate podium at regional meet

CAC swimmers dominate podium at regional meetPalmetto Aquatics (PALM) hosted the 2017 Thanksgiving Invite Meet on [more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach