July 12, 2011
HARTFORD - The most successful women's collegiate basketball tournament in the country for the past eight years will continue at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The BIG EAST Conference has agreed to further its partnership with the XL Center, which is managed by AEG Management CT, LLC, through the 2012-2013 basketball season, extending the relationship to a full decade. The BIG EAST Women's Basketball Championship presented by American Eagle Outfitters has led the nation in attendance since it moved to the XL Center beginning with the 2004 event.
There have been more than 900,000 fans in total game attendance during the eight years that the XL Center has hosted the tournament (2004-2011). The league expects its millionth fan during the course of the contract extension.
In 2011, for the eighth consecutive year, the BIG EAST Conference led all leagues in women's basketball conference tournament attendance with an average of 8,835 fans. The 2011 attendance at the XL Center saw public ticket sales pushing attendance over the 8,000-fan mark for the eighth straight year. Also, for the third straight year, the championship game -- which featured Notre Dame taking on Connecticut before an ESPN national television audience -- had more than 10,000 fans in attendance.
The 2012 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Championship will be held March 2-6 and the 2013 Championship will be hosted in Hartford March 8-12. All 16 BIG EAST teams will compete in the women's basketball championship in 2012, with the winner earning the conference's automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
"The XL Center and the city of Hartford have proven to be a great platform to show off some of the best women's basketball players and programs in all of college basketball," said Danielle Donehew, BIG EAST Associate Commissioner for Women's Basketball. "As the most attended Conference basketball tournament in the country, we think there are great possibilities and look forward to further enhancing the championship experience for our players and fans."
The BIG EAST had a record-setting season in 2010-11, with nine teams being selected to the NCAA Championship and one to the WNIT, topping the Conference's own postseason mark of eight. After BIG EAST teams posted a perfect 10-0 record in the first round of the postseason (including the NCAA Championship and the WNIT), the Conference was well represented in the Final Four as Connecticut and Notre Dame advanced to play each other in the semifinal round.
Notre Dame advanced to the NCAA national championship game for the second time in program history. During the regular season, Connecticut set a Division I basketball record, winning 90 consecutive games. The Huskies broke the previous record of 88 straight wins, held by the UCLA men's team from 1971 to 1974.
"We are tremendously honored and excited to have the best women's basketball tournament in the country returning to the XL Center for the next two years," said Chuck Steedman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the XL Center. "We take great pride in this event and we look forward to working in conjunction with the BIG EAST Conference to ensure that Hartford remains at the capital of Women's College Basketball."
The BIG EAST was a constant in the national polls and earned high RPI rankings all season. The Conference again swept the national player of the year awards, in addition to 10 different student-athletes earning all-America accolades. Home attendance figures continue to rise year-after-year as schools implement new and innovative marketing tactics as the league posted 20 regular-season sellouts.
The XL Center, located in the heart of downtown Hartford, is managed by AEG Management, CT LLC, a subsidiary of AEG Facilities. In addition to the resident teams, the XL Center entertains millions of visitors annually with a variety of concerts, sporting events, family shows, consumer events and trade shows. The XL Center will continue to be the center of sports and entertainment for Hartford and the state of Connecticut for years to come.
AEG Facilities is a stand-alone division of AEG that owns, operates and consults with more than 100 of the industry's preeminent venues worldwide. It has, at its fingertips, AEG's vast network of resources and services, from live event producer - AEG Live, to AEG Global Partnerships, to AEG Digital Media. AEG Facilities is an elite collection of world-class venues with an unmatched level of resources, experience, and talent.