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MOUNTAIN EAST: Coming back to Charleston? Officials meet to discuss multi-year deal for basketball championships

By Chuck McGill, Sports editor

The Mountain East Conference is negotiating exclusively with Charleston officials about bringing the league’s basketball championships back to the capital city next season.

Representatives from the MEC, Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Charleston Civic Center will meet Friday morning to discuss the possibility of a multi-year agreement for Charleston to host the men’s and women’s basketball tournament.

The MEC has granted Charleston an exclusive 45-day window to come to an agreement.

“After a successful inaugural Mountain East Conference basketball tournament at the Charleston Civic Center this past March, on July 1 the MEC opened a 45-day window for negotiations with Charleston officials regarding a potential agreement for future years,” said Reid Amos, the Mountain East’s commissioner.

The Mountain East recently completed its first year of competition. Charleston hosted the first-ever MEC basketball championships in March, but the agreement was only for one year.

“Friday is really the first time we’ve had the opportunity to sit down with the conference since the tournament ended,” said Tim Brady, vice president of sales for the CVB. “The Mountain East moved from the basketball championships to spring sports and the first part of the summer is very busy for the CVB, so this is our first chance to sit down and talk about how last season’s championships went, what the expectation is for future years, what worked, what didn’t work and what we can do differently.

“We’ll hash the whole thing out as we prepare a multi-year proposal.”

Brady said the tournament’s economic impact on Charleston is a conservative $1.2 million.

That minimum figure accounts for ticket sales and sleeping rooms for players, coaches, trainers, cheerleaders, school administrators and conference officials.

The figure does not include the boost provided by out-of-town gueses who stay in hotels, shop and dine in restaurants. Brady called the first MEC basketball championships a “very successful week for the conference and the city,” but he believes the event can be enhanced with a multi-year agreement.

“That’s our hope,” Brady said. “We went into this first year knowing this was a brand-new conference with some schools that were familiar with Charleston and familiar with the Civic Center, but also with some schools that were not familiar with our city or our venue. We had a one-year agreement so they could see the facilities, see the town and start establishing a relationship with this new conference and the schools that didn’t know anything about us.”

Brady said the CVB does not have a specific number of years in mind for the new agreement between the city and conference.

“There’s no template,” Brady said. “That’s one of the things we’ll talk about Friday. How many years are they comfortable with and how many we are comfortable with.”

“We put a lot of effort and resources into this event,” he added. “It would be a lot easier for us to make that commitment knowing that we would have this event coming back for multiple years.”

If the sides cannot reach an agreement by Aug. 14, the league can consider negotiations with other cities and venues, according to sources.

The University of Charleston reached the championship game in men’s and women’s basketball this season. The UC women lost to top-seeded Glenville State, 74-50, as the first part of a championship Sunday doubleheader on March 9. UC knocked off No. 1 seed West Liberty in the men’s final, 63-60.


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