High School basketball: Mariucci Arena to host state hoops games
State tournament basketball will have a different look starting in 2014.
Beginning in 2014 and for three years, the Minnesota State High School League boys basketball state tournament will be played one week before the girls tournament, and the girls will play a Tuesday through Saturday schedule. During those same years the boys will play a familiar Wednesday through Saturday schedule. In addition to the flip-flop of weeks, the use of Mariucci Arena for both tournaments will come into play. In 2017 and 2018 the formats will revert to the traditional schedule of playing the girls tournament first and then the boys tournament.
The Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors approved the modifications to the tournaments at its meeting last week. However, contractual arrangements with the venues must still be worked out, and staff will need to complete the details of which classes will play when and where.
"This solution is not ideal, but it is the least complicated to implement and meets the preference of the Board and the basketball coaches associations to maintain an eight-team Twin Cities tournament for all classes," explained MSHSL Associate Director Kevin Merkle, who oversees boys basketball.
The modifications became necessary when Target Center entered into an agreement to host a new collegiate hockey conference tournament during the traditional week of the boys basketball tournament. Target Center has served as the primary host for the boys tournaments since 2003 and for the girls tournament since 2004. Beginning in 2014, Target Center will host the Division I National Collegiate Hockey Conference tournament through 2018. The dates of that tournament fall in either the second or third full week of March.
An additional complicating factor involved the availability of Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota, which has served as host of 10 quarterfinal games on Wednesday and Thursday for both tournaments since the semifinals and championship games have been played at Target Center. University officials have elected to reserve some dates at Williams Arena in future years to potentially host early-round games in either the NCAA or NIT tournaments for its women's and men's basketball teams.
"We worked diligently with officials at both Target Center and the university to secure dates, then developed and shared various scenarios with a core group of coaches, region secretaries and athletic directors," added MSHSL Associate Director Lisa Lissimore, who oversees girls basketball.
The MSHSL board accepted the favored staff recommendation of switching the order of the two basketball tournaments for three years (2014-16) and then reverting to the traditional girls first-boys second format for the following two years (2017-18). The decision also allows eight teams from four classes to come to Minneapolis for the tournaments, the option preferred by both the Board and coaches associations over playing quarterfinal games at various Minnesota sites and then bringing only four teams in each class to Minneapolis for semifinals and championships.
From 2014 through 2016, the proposal accepted by the board will allow the boys to utilize both Williams Arena and Target Center Wednesday through Saturday. The following week, when the new collegiate hockey tournament will be played at Target Center, the girls will primarily utilize Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena on the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota. Target Center will be utilized for some quarterfinal games on Tuesday of that week.
For 2017 and 2018, the girls tournament will be played first, using the same venues and schedule during the week that Target Center hosts the hockey tournament. The boys tournament will be played Wednesday through Saturday the following week.
"League staff spent weeks working on this issue and presented the board with two options," said MSHSL executive Director Dave Stead. "The other option was to combine genders and play the tournaments over that same two-week period, but that would have still necessitated the requirement of using Tuesdays and Mariucci Arena."