Friday, February 23, 2007

FIRST CAPITOL NEWS SPORTS - Mike McMurran Sports Editor

I’m not certain what changes have taken place in regards to whom is making the scheduling at Family Arena, but something is clearly up! It really is hard to tell what event is at the Family Arena as the marquis still has more lights burned out than working, but the crowds are picking up. You can tell by driving by and looking at the parking lot and how full it is.

On Wednesday of this past week the Missouri Valley Conference announced it would be moving its women’s basketball tournament to the Family Arena starting in 2008. Mike Kern, the media guy for the MVC said he hopes the tournament will move there for a number of years that is presently under negotiations. When the tournament moves to St. Charles, it will be the first neutral-site women’s tournament in league history.

The MVC holds its men’s tournament annually at Scottrade Center, or Savvis Center, I can even remember when they held it at Kiel Center. Before that they held it at the old Arena. Anyway, Bob Barton and I have been covering it for the FCN for the past three years – believe me, it is a first class event. Frankly, it is the only time big time college basketball comes to town.

Saint Charles and the Family Arena have really caught on to something here. I can picture the Convention Center hotel packed with people from Bradley, Evansville, Illinois State, Carbondale, Indiana State and from all over Iowa. The format will remain the same as has been the past two years, since the league expanded its tournament to 10 teams in 2006. It begins with two games on Thursday, March 13, continues with four quarterfinal games on Friday, March 14, two semifinal games on Saturday, and concludes with the championship game on Sunday, March 16. That means Friday and Saturday night Main Street should really be busting at the seams.

“Saint Charles is delighted to have the opportunity to showcase our community to the teams, coaches and fans of the Missouri Valley Conference’s Women’s 2008 Basketball Tournament,” said David Rossenwasser, director of the Saint Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This exciting event will find a level of hospitality and service in St. Charles that will no doubt match the level of play from these outstanding student athletes.” Well-said Dave old boy.

Everybody had something nice to say on Wednesday. “Bringing our women’s basketball championship to a neutral site is a natural progression and something we’ve been working toward for several years,” said Commissioner Doug Elgin, now in his 19th season with the MVC. “We are indebted to the continuing commitment of our sponsors, namely State Farm Insurance, who have made this possible. We anticipate the Saint Charles community will embrace our women’s championship and help it grow.”

I don’t know about the rest of the community, but I for one am very excited. Our little ole hometown just landed a big one folks! Job well done to all involved.