Atlanta being considered by Sun Belt for tourney and conference home

Atlanta is one of several cities being considered as a site for the Sun Belt’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as home for its conference offices.

In addition to Atlanta, Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson said they are considering New Orleans, currently the conference’s home, Orlando, Nashville, Memphis and Birmingham.

“It’s very, very preliminary,” he said. Georgia State is joining the Sun Belt for all sports except men’s soccer for the 2013-14 season.

Benson toured Gwinnett Arena, which he sid he liked, on Friday with members of Georgia State’s athletic department and the Atlanta Sports Council.

The basketball tournaments are contracted to play in Hot Springs, Ark. through the 2013-14 season. The city also has a 30-day window after the ’13 tournament to exclusively negotiate another contract with the Sun Belt. Benson said the city is also in the running.

“The priority is finding the right location for our basketball tournament,” Benson said. He said they want a city that will be good for fans to travel to, that will provide a good experience and will result in good attendance. Because the conference spreads from Texas to Florida, he said somewhere in the middle would be ideal.

The men’s championship game in which Western Kentucky defeated North Texas earlier this year was attended by 4,216. The men’s tournament had a total attendance of 16,109 and the women’s had 13,253.

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– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu

32 comments Add your comment


September 17th, 2012
8:03 am

Attendance not near as much as CAA but then it is not almost on campus of a member school either. The only one that no where near the center is Orlando. Any of the rest would be good places to drive to.


September 17th, 2012
8:39 am

Belt bball tournaments at Gwinnett Arena would be fun and worthy of some time spent on a Friday or Saturday. Come to Atlanta SBC!


September 17th, 2012
8:40 am

Fortunately I could see the city really try for this, which could give it the extra pull it needs to happen


September 17th, 2012
9:13 am

RidgeRunner, Attendance would never be high in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Put it in a big city which is easy to travel to and I bet you’ll see a much higher turnout.

Orlando Panther

September 17th, 2012
9:17 am

Nashville or Atlanta would get my stamp of approval, the rest not so much.

However, if there were more SBC teams near Orlando (UCF & USF would be nice additions), then it would make sense b/c of how nice the weather is here during basketball tourney time, and since Benson is such a big golfer he would be in a golfing mecca. Orlando is also home to XOS Digital Sports, which is the new digital provider for the SBC.

Astonishing Werepanther

September 17th, 2012
9:34 am

ATL would be the best choice.

I’m a bit biased, of course.


September 17th, 2012
9:53 am

Neither Orlando or Birmingham should be legitimately considered. Atlanta and Nashville are the best locales. New Orleans is a dumb. Nashville is more “central” but Atlanta provides such easy access with Hartsfield. It would be a big win for the city.


September 17th, 2012
10:53 am

Nashville would be a much better choice because it is much more of a “destination” city and is more centrally located, not to mention more of a “basketball” town.


September 17th, 2012
10:54 am

Why would a business considering moving to Atlanta, a city that has no plan and no political will to manage its chronic traffic issues?

Bill Curry

September 17th, 2012
11:49 am

If Benson doesn’t move the Sun Belt to Atlanta, I’ll bodyslam him into dust.

Alabama Jack

September 17th, 2012
11:55 am

Anywhere except Birmingham

[...] things, the Palpably Unfair Act … have a catlab and a smile  … the Sun Belt is considering moving to Atlanta, which is certainly as hot as the surface of the sun … Arkansas’ latest ignominious [...]

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

September 17th, 2012
12:07 pm

Come on over to the ATL, where there are panhandlers who want your business, potholes to welcome your vehicles, and around the clock snarled traffic to sit in so you won’t feel lonely while traveling.

Why not put the conference HQ in the same area of downtown as the fish tank, Coke, Dome, Arena, Civil Rights Museum, etc. etc., so that the gridlock becomes even more complete?


September 17th, 2012
12:07 pm

Atlanta seems like a logical choice.

Big Man

September 17th, 2012
1:39 pm

Lol @ gridlock for the Sun Belt conference tourney…..

BullDawg Rick

September 17th, 2012
1:56 pm

For those of you that are spewing over Atlanta’s crime, etc..You do not know what you’re talking about so shut your piehile. Gwinnett Arena is 30 mile northeast of the ATL in a great location that offers FREE parking… It’d be hugh for the SunBelt Conf & not a big deal to Gwinnett County, as we are so used to these events, it’d be staged great, like the other events hosted there.. The Gwinnett COC is right next door & that alone will ensure the event comes off without a hitch (unless of course, you bring your own trailer hitch!! LOL)

Chicken Bone

September 17th, 2012
2:03 pm

@BullDawg Rick, Agreed although Philips would be a great location too with all of the attractions around the area such as GA Aqaurium, World of Coke, and soon to be College Football Hall of Fame.


September 17th, 2012
2:57 pm

Sorry BullDawg Rick….when people are lead to believe something is going to be in Atlanta and they end up in Gwinnett, they are disappointed…ie…womens basketball tourney. I’m just not impressed with going to a city and the only thing to see is the inside of a mall..Gwinnett – great place to live, just wouldn’t want to visit there!


September 17th, 2012
3:09 pm

Gwinnett Arena is not a good choice at all. I’ve gone to different events there and have spent hours trying to leave that parking lot disaster. I have vowed to never go there again until they connect to rapid transit to give people an option on getting the heck out of there.


September 17th, 2012
3:29 pm

I think Birmingham will get it. They will offer the most kickbacks and it is the most central.

BullDawg Rick

September 17th, 2012
4:25 pm

K3N – I’ll have to call you out on the “hours trying to leave the parking lot”.. I have been there maybe 50+ times & it’s never taken me that long to get out of there. GCPD actually disables the traffic signal & lets out the cars from the Arena at a good rate. It’s also a mile from I-85.. I guess you’ll never attend anything there again, as it’d take 20 years before they build a rail system there. The place only holds just under 11,000 people. So I really take it you are BS!!

That is All


September 17th, 2012
4:56 pm

Don’t think USF and UCF are going to leave the BIG EAST for the two-tiers down the conference ladder Sun Belt Conference anytime soon. Think Stetson.

Georgia State settled for the Sun Belt, while Charlotte (no football team yet) got into C-USA. Last time I checked, Metro Atlanta had three times more people than Metro Charlotte. Fail!


September 17th, 2012
5:06 pm

no more new anything until Atlanta learn to plan better and work on its horrible traffic and crime and quality of life issues and fixing and expanding marta…send it to Charlotte


September 17th, 2012
5:19 pm

It’s sid to be a good deal for ATL

Orlando Panther

September 17th, 2012
5:50 pm

@Dave, I wasn’t saying they would drop down, just saying that if they happened to be in the Sun Belt then it would make sense for Orlando. They aren’t gonna drop down, unless the CUSA or Big East implode, but only time will tell if that happens


September 17th, 2012
6:21 pm

Sports Top Fan and sports fans across the area believe that ATLANTA GEORGIA would be a great site for the home of the Sun Belt Conference !!!

We urge Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson and conference officials to give this beautiful and vibrant city strong consideration.

Atlanta has a world class airport, freeway system and a good subway system to move fans around
the city. The area has many, many great attractions for sports fans.

The Sun Belt Conference and Atlanta, Georgia would be a great combination.


September 18th, 2012
8:00 am

Were those attendance numbers correct? WOW A High School tourny could draw those numbers. Why all the fuss to get this group to Atl?

[...] Sun Belt eyeing Atlanta for hoops tournament and conference home [...]


September 18th, 2012
12:08 pm


September 18th, 2012
1:02 pm

Given that we’re talking about teams all the way from Florida to Kentucky to Texas, Memphis or Nashville would be the most centrally located options and they both offer a lot of ancillary entertainment options. Atlanta and Orlando, while fun cities, are too far south and east. Also, I think you’d have a tough time selling the fans on a trip to Birmingham. Say what you will about Hot Springs, but it is definitely an easier sell than Birmingham.


September 18th, 2012
1:56 pm

Atlanta has the best growth potential for this tournament.

You have to have more than 16K for a 3 day tournament.

Adding Georgia State only makes this more attractive to this city.
The Gwinnett Center is nice, but it isn’t exactly surrounded by tourist destinations.
And the SEC women have these dates for basketball going forward:

2013 – March 7-10 The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Duluth, Ga.
2014 – March 6-9 The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Duluth, Ga.

That’s going to be tough to work around.

They should be looking at Philips Arena since the ACC and SEC use the Georgia Dome when they are in town. The Hawks schedule isn’t put together prior to that, so it should work.

Downtown is a better fit for tournaments.

[...] Sun Belt eyeing Atlanta for hoops tournament and conference home [...]