Tampa an odd venue for SEC tourney

Good morning. Greetings from Gate T3 at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. I’m on my way to Tampa for the SEC Tournament. I think it’s going to be a good day. Why? Because Willie Nelson is waiting at my gate. Only good things can happen if you’re traveling with the “Redheaded Stranger,” right?

I never can get used to the SEC Tournament being somewhere other than Atlanta. It seems extra strange having to hop a plane to Tampa to go cover it. I don’t really mind them moving it to Nashville or New Orleans occasionally or even to Birmingham. But Tampa seems like a relative foreign outpost for the SEC.

I’m dating myself a little bit here but I was there the last time they played the SEC Tournament in Florida. It was in Orlando and the Gators were horrible that year. Kentucky was banned from playing due to NCAA probation. Georgia was regular-season champion but Ole Miss and Bama ended up playing in the finals.

Needless to say it wasn’t a very well-attended event. In fact, they had 75,000 for the whole tournament. To put that into perspective, they usually get between 190,000 and 250,000 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. With the economy being like it is and Kentucky not rolling like usual, I expect attendance will fall significantly south of the Atlanta figures. But we’ll see.

Talking to coaches on the SEC teleconference earlier this week it appeared the majority prefer it being played in Atlanta every year, too. But I hear the St. Pete Times Forum is a beautiful facility with a good setup for basketball. I’ll let you know when I get there in a few hours. I’ll be providing updates from there throughout the day.

Meanwhile, I’m going to walk over and talk to Willie and see if he wants to hang out tonight. I’m guessing he probably already has plans.

Some links:

Longtime AJC sports reporter Tony Barnhart was named the winner of the Bert McGrane Award by the Football Writers Association of America for 2009. It’s like the Hall of Fame for college football writers. . . .

AJC columnist Jeff Schultz weighs in — as only he can — on Georgia’s role as defending SEC Tournament champions. . . .

The undefeated Diamond Dogs roll on.

Now, in the spirit of our great Braves writer/blogger Dave O’Brien, some words from Willie:

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

On the road again —
Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is making music with my friends

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.
On the road again

Goin’ places that I’ve never been.
Seein’ things that I may never see again

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.
On the road again -
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends.
Insisting that the world keep turning our way

And our way
is on the road again.
Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is makin’ music with my friends

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.
On the road again

Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends

Insisting that the world keep turning our way

And our way
is on the road again.
Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is makin’ music with my friends

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.
And I can’t wait to get on the road again.

26 comments Add your comment

Dave In Tampa

March 11th, 2009
8:37 am

Even though I live in Tampa I have to agree, this is an odd spot for the SEC Tourney. Use to seeing it in Atlanta. I’ve been in Tampa for 5 years(25 years in Atlanta) and have to say that Atlanta blows Tampa away. OK< the beach is a plus, but as for holding sporting events Tampa really stinks compared to Atlanta.

Anyway, just ready for College Football to start.

Right On Time

March 11th, 2009
9:15 am

Chip,

1. Atlanta blows Tampa away, literally, with the tornado last year.

2. Playing at techs place was MUCH wierder than Tampa.

3. Take a night and enjoy Ybor City.

4. Your flight should be safe because Willie always flys with Seven Spanish Angels. (Could not resist)

Upstate Dawg

March 11th, 2009
9:44 am

Orlando was horrible…UGA was the #1 seed and lost on the first day! I’m not excited about the long drive but I am glad to see it played in an arena versus a dome. Everyone keeps saying, “The Georgia Dome is the best dome to see a basketball game.” The key point is, “it’s a DOME”–it’s not meant for basketball. I wish they’d play it at Philips Arena when in Atlanta. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy Tampa, Nashville, and New Orleans in the upcoming years.

[...] In the AJC, Chip Towers writes that Tampa is an odd venue for the SEC Tournament. [...]

[...] In the AJC, Chip Towers writes that Tampa is an odd venue for the SEC Tournament. [...]

Richard Dawson

March 11th, 2009
1:40 pm

DOB is an idiot. Please stop with the inane song lyrics already, particularly from the likes of the no-talent Willie Nelson.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 11th, 2009
3:14 pm

Chip, I hear Willie’s stuff is top shelf. Ever hear that song by Toby Keith? “I’ll never smoke weed with Willie again”. Might not even want the second hand smoke. Plus tax time is rolling up on us Willie might be busy working on Turbo Tax tonight.

Cuz

March 11th, 2009
3:21 pm

Chip, don’t boss him, don’t cross him, he’s wild in his sorrow.

Sorry Richard I could not help myself. IMHO, Redheaded Stranger is one of the greatest concept albums. It told a story that had to be made into a movie.

Oh c’mon Dawgs, win at least one. Go Dawgs!!!

Chip Towers

March 11th, 2009
3:42 pm

SEC Basketball. Catch the fever. . . .

I see everybody’s jumping in on today’s today. I figured I’d jump in for a moment between interviews and practices here at St. Pete Times Forum. Nice Arena. Absolutely nobody around for the open practices except for a modest turnout for Kentucky, of course. Not a good omen. . . .

So obviously nobody wants to talk hoops. Go ahead and hijack the blog and take i where you want it. I’ll be checking in regularly.

dawgstephen

March 11th, 2009
3:53 pm

I will talk basketball. Tell us Chip what you like about the arena, any news you have about the new coach, and anything else related to The Dawgs. How many will the arena hold, etc etc etc

dawginmemphis

March 11th, 2009
4:49 pm

When the boring C-USA tournament moves to Tulsa, the SEC tournament should come back to Memphis. The tourney came twice in the 1990s to the Pyramid, but this time they would be playing in the world class Fed-Ex Forum. Many people consider Fed-Ex forum the best basketball arena in the country, and I would have to agree. In any event, it blows the Georgia dome away and is just as neutral (if not more) of a location as Atlanta. Not to mention, its squarely in the entertainment district where fans could walk straight from Beale Street or their hotel to and from the stadium. Also, Memphis is the quintessential basketball town if there ever was one, and tons of different SEC loyalties abound in Memphis and the locals would support it to the fullest. It would be the perfect town / arena / venue !

Chip, your thoughts ? BTW, that roundtrip plane flight to Memphis would only take you about an hour and you can find it for under $100.

Chip Towers

March 11th, 2009
5:55 pm

dawgstephen: It’s a really nice arena. Looks like it’s built for basketball. Kind of reminds me of Orlando’s arena. Seats 21,655. Be interesting to see if it gets close to a sellout for Florida for the late game (around 10 p.m.) tomorrow night. . . .

dawginmemphis: I loved the SEC tournament in Memphis. I was there for it in 1997. It’s very centrally located to both East and West teams. And the food and entertainment offerings are awesome. Can’t be dem Memphis blues!

Matt

March 11th, 2009
6:24 pm

St. Pete Times Forum was built for the Tampa Bay Lightning so they could move out of what is now Tropicana Field. Great facility with some upgrades like the new awesome videoboard. I’ll be there next week for a Thrashers road game. Eat at Andreychuk’s Grille and enjoy Channelside Drive. Go Dawgs!

FLDAWG

March 11th, 2009
8:00 pm

Seriously, when does spring football practice begin?

Dave In Tampa

March 11th, 2009
8:42 pm

Channelside is much better than Ybor City. A lot safer as well.

Jimmy

March 11th, 2009
9:32 pm

Ok, here is a topic we can never get enough of:

My main concern w/ this year’s football team is Joe Cox. Is he really ready to be the man? He reminds me of JoeT a few years back. As good as a guy he was, a QB he wasn’t. 8-4 or whatever sounds about right to me. Think about it, if Cox or Grey were as good as people want to make them out to be, why weren’t they starters earlier in their UGA careers? It’s not like Stafford dominated.

Greg

March 11th, 2009
9:50 pm

Chip: How’s the weather down there? Any chance of a tornado passing through between now and tomorrow’s tipoff?

Cuz

March 11th, 2009
10:48 pm

Good question there Greg, I will spike it over to Chip. Chip how many times have the Dawgs won the championship or been in the final game due to tornados?

Cuz

March 11th, 2009
10:54 pm

Oh my God, it is Tampa and I left our waterspouts. Chip add waterspouts into the answer please.

Squalls out on the Gulfstream, big storm coming soon. Passed out in my hammock. God I slept till way past noon.

GO DAWGS, BEAT THE PRETENDERS!!!!!!

Upstate Dawg

March 11th, 2009
11:26 pm

Memphis was a great venue….lots of good food and centrally located for many of the schools.

Chip, why does the SEC insist on starting the games at 1pm and ending up with a 10pm game each of the first two nights? 12:00, 2:30, 7:00 and 9:30 would allow for a longer dinner break and avoid a 10:00 (or later) nightcap.

Atlanta Jackets

March 12th, 2009
10:13 am

Hey mutts, just wait until Derrick “Do Me The” Favors gets a hold you doggies. He’s going to rip you a new one. LOL! Just like the Robot did!! ROTFLMAO!!! Burn!!

[...] sadly, dying.)Chip Towers of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that “Tampa seems like a relative foreign outpost for the SEC.”Mr. Towers also wonders which team might become this year’s version of Georgia.And finally, [...]

gdawginkalamazoo

March 12th, 2009
11:10 am

Cuz, sure could use a bloody mary….

DawgMan

March 12th, 2009
3:08 pm

The only good things about Tampa are Mons Venus and Berns Steakhouse.

Jimmy

March 12th, 2009
8:04 pm

Anyone who laughs after their own comments, especially on a freaking blog, is a putz. Coming from a Techie, it’s understandable though.

Also, do us a favor and never use that nickname w/ Favors again, putz!

Ed Rooney

March 12th, 2009
9:54 pm

Sounds like “Atlanta Jackets” has a crush on Derrick Favors. His post sounded kinda gay…not that there’s anything wrong with that.