Tampa, FL – The Southeastern Conference (SEC) has awarded Tampa and the St. Pete Times Forum the 2009 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament. The bid was submitted by the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, the St. Pete Times Forum, and the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau. The announcement was made today by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive at the SEC’s Basketball Media Days in Birmingham, Alabama during a news conference.
The 2009 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament marks the first time the event will be held in the state of Florida since Orlando hosted in 1990. The dates of the tournament are March 12-15, 2009. Tournament organizers in Atlanta, who hosted the event in 2002, estimated the economic impact of the SEC tournament at $25.7 million for the local community.
“We are extremely excited that a powerhouse such as the Southeastern Conference has chosen the St. Pete Times Forum for its championship,” said Ron Campbell, President of the St. Pete Times Forum and the Chairman of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. “This is another feather in the cap of the Tampa Bay region, and offers yet more proof of the hard work being done by area leadership to create economic impact for the local community through sports.”
The announcement further adds to Tampa’s roster of big-time college basketball events over the next several years. Including the SEC Championship, the Atlantic Coast Conference will host its Men’s Basketball Championship at the Forum in 2007, and the NCAA will host a Men’s First & Second Round tournament and the Women’s Final Four in Tampa in 2008. Area leaders think this announcement is an indication of the area’s growing reputation for hosting successful collegiate basketball events.
“We are well on our way to becoming a premier destination for NCAA basketball tournaments,” said Rob Higgins, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. “This decision is truly a monumental announcement for our area and for the state of Florida. Our community could not be more excited to have the opportunity to host the SEC along with all of their outstanding teams, coaches, and fans.”
“This is just further proof that tourism, and specifically sports tourism, can generate significant economic development for our community,” said Paul Catoe, President/COE of the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The entire region will benefit in many ways from this tournament, including the media exposure during the event, the corporate sponsor representatives who will get to experience the area, and of course the thousands of family, alumni, and fans who will travel to Tampa for the games and stay for the weekend.”
The SEC member schools include University of Alabama, University of Arkansas, Auburn University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky, Louisiana State University, University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, University of South Carolina, University of Tennessee, and Vanderbuilt University.