Madison remains home to WIAA basketball tournament

April 24, 2012 By Käri Knutson

A tradition nearly 100 years old will continue as the WIAA has agreed to keep the boys basketball tournament in Madison through 2020. The girls tournament will spend 2013 and 2014 in Green Bay.

“This is great news not only for the university and the city of Madison, but for all the people who look forward to coming to our city every year,” says Darrell Bazzell, vice chancellor for administration at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “It’s tremendous for the local economy and a chance for people to familiarize themselves with the university. We all take great pride in this tradition and are hopeful that girls basketball will return to Madison.”

The agreement to keep the March tournament in Madison was reached Tuesday afternoon (April 24) after a vote in Stevens Point by the WIAA Board of Control.

Boys basketball has been played in Madison 92 of its 93 years.

“We’re thrilled that we could reach an agreement to keep this event in Madison,” says UW director of athletics Barry Alvarez. “A lot of people worked hard to help make this happen and we appreciate the efforts of all who have been involved. People have made the tournaments an annual tradition in Madison, and we’re happy that our friends from around the state will continue enjoying coming to the state capital to watch some of our state’s most talented athletes in person.”

The effort to keep the tournaments in Madison was led by a community partnership involving the University of Wisconsin–Madison, city of Madison, Dane County, the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau and the local business community.

“This has been a great collaborative effort, and I am very happy with the WIAA decision,” says Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. “We look forward to welcoming young athletes from around the state back to Madison for years to come.”

A December survey showed that 72 percent of all WIAA basketball coaches preferred Madison as the locale for the state tournament. Generations of fans and athletes have made the pilgrimage to Madison every year.

In what is often a slow time for tourism, Madison in March is full of people visiting the city, spending time and money at hotels, restaurants and retailers. The estimated economic impact is more than $9 million. In 2012, more than 76,000 attended the boys tournament and more than 31,000 attended the girls tournament.

“We are so honored to be able to continue to be a part of the WIAA legacy in Madison,” says Deb Archer, president and CEO of the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Now, nearly a century old, we proudly honor our long-standing relationship, our history and our legacy.”