By GABE NEITZEL
I can't believe we've reached this point. After nearly 100 years, the WIAA might move the high school basketball tournaments out of Madison and up to Green Bay.
This seems like a move that is completely avoidable. But at the same time, it now looks like a move that will likely happen. The WIAA wants the Kohl Center at all times. UW knows they will have some conflicts, and now wants to keep the tournaments, offering the Fieldhouse when the Kohl is not available.
But the Fieldhouse isn't good enough, apparently.
I just don't get why the Fieldhouse isn't up to par for the WIAA. It seems as if they have a fear that if they get bumped into that building, they will never get the Kohl back. Personally, I love the Fieldhouse. It is my favorite place for high school basketball games. The crowd is right on top of you, much like a regular high school game, and when you get enough people in there (like for the WIAA state tournament for example) the energy is incredibly high.
The only problem I can really think of with the “Barn” is that there probably isn't enough room for the Media. But you know what? At the end of the day, this tournament is about the kids.
UW has to share the blame here with the WIAA. It seems as if they have just now realized how big the state tournament is in Madison. The amount of money that is spent over the course of these two weeks is unbelievable. The city economy gets a nice big boost. The loss of the tournament will likely be felt on an economic scale.
Plus, these tournaments are a recruiting tool, and not just for the athletic department. Kids and parents come onto the campus and walk State Street every year and fall in love with the place, and Madison becomes a college choice for these kids. While this likely won't have a huge impact, since UW is the state’s signature school, this still needs to be noted.
At the end of the day, the WIAA has to do what is has to do, and if they don't feel welcome in Madison then they are going to take their proverbial ball and go to Green Bay. While I don't doubt that the WIAA will have success up in Titletown, it won't be the hit that it was and is here in Madison.
For one, the Resch Center doesn't hold what the Kohl Center can. And kids don't pretend they are playing in the Resch Center in their driveways, hitting game winning shots to bring home a gold ball. They see the Kohl Center on TV, and that becomes a place where they want to play.
So if the inevitable happens, and these tournaments leave town, enjoy them this year. Because once they leave town they are not coming back.
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