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For Towson, CAA men's basketball tournament's move to D.C. 'great on so many levels'

The Colonial Athletic Association’s men’s basketball tournament is on the move again.

After residing in Baltimore from 2014 to 2016, then moving to South Carolina for 2017 to 2019, the tournament is coming back north again, to Washington, a more centrally located city for the league.

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The tournament will relocate to the Entertainment and Sports Arena, a facility under construction in Congress Heights, a residential neighborhood in southeast Washington, in 2020. It is the planned home of the Washington Mystics of the WNBA and the training facility of the NBA’s Washington Wizards.

The conference signed a three-year contract with Events DC and will move after the 2019 tournament March 8-11 at the North Charleston (S.C.) Coliseum.

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For Maryland’s sole conference member, Towson, the change is more than welcome, bringing the tournament closer to Baltimore and its fans.

The CAA men's basketball tournament will be at the new Entertainment & Sports Arena, which is under construction in Washington.
The CAA men's basketball tournament will be at the new Entertainment & Sports Arena, which is under construction in Washington. (Photo courtesy of Colonial Athletic Association)

“This is great on a number of fronts,” Towson athletic director Tim Leonard said. “We’ll be going into a brand-new building for our conference tournament. It’s a true neutral site in a neutral market. Lastly, we get to play in the nation’s capital, which is easily accessible and is convenient for all of our fans. This is exciting.”

After signing a three-year deal to host the games at the Royal Farms Arena from 2014 to 2016, the league offered the tournament to other cities in 2017, eventually selecting North Charleston in South Carolina.

Washington does not have a team in the CAA, which stretches as far north as Hofstra on Long Island in New York and south as Charleston.

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“To be able to play our conference tournament in Washington, D.C., is tremendous for our program as well as our fans,” Towson coach Pat Skerry said. “We are excited to play in a brand-new facility not too far from our campus. It’s also great to know that one of our former basketball players, Lawrence Hamm, is part of the group that submitted a bid to host the CAA tournament. This is great on many levels for the conference.”

The conference hopes that Washington serves as an accessible midpoint for its teams.

“The CAA looks at our relationship with Events DC as so much more than signing a venue rental agreement,” CAA commissioner Joe D’Antonio said in a news release. “We know that we are entering into a true partnership with Events DC and hope to be able to showcase the Conference’s men’s and women’s basketball brand and our incredibly talented student-athletes throughout the entire season, in other ways than just the men’s basketball championship.”

Charleston drew more fans than Baltimore, pulling 21,247 in 2017 and 21,941 in 2018 in its approximately 11,000-seat arena. In both years, the final featured the College of Charleston, which more than likely boosted the site’s attendance.

In its first year, which included a final of William & Mary vs. Delaware, Baltimore drew 19,065. In its second season, 18,754 attended over four days, highlighted by a gate of 5,721 in the final between William & Mary and Northeastern. In 2016, attendance slumped to 16,198 overall, with just 3,031 attending the final between UNC Wilmington and Hofstra.

The D.C. facility will seat 4,200.

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