NEW ORLEANS – "The Big Easy" will continue to be home to the Sun Belt Conference's annual men's and women's basketball championships.
The conference announced on Wednesday that New Orleans' Lakefront Arena will host the 2018 and 2019 editions of the tournament. New Orleans has served as the host city since 2014. The conference also announced the format for the 2017 Sun Belt Championship presented by First Bank and Trust - that will include all 12 members of the Sun Belt.
"New Orleans represents a showcase platform for the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Championships," said Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson. "Our student-athletes and fans will continue enjoy to a first-class basketball experience at Lakefront Arena while also having the unique opportunity to experience a world-renowned city. I applaud the coaches, athletic directors, and presidents and chancellors for making this decision."
"On behalf of the Sun Belt Conference's presidents and chancellors, we are excited to continue our relationship with the city of New Orleans and Lakefront Arena," said Texas State University and Sun Belt Conference President Dr. Denise Trauth. "The Sun Belt Conference's brand is enhanced by having our signature basketball events in a city as distinguished as New Orleans. Most importantly, the student-athletes of the Sun Belt will know that their hard work throughout the season will be rewarded with an outstanding championship experience."
New Orleans was originally selected as the host city in the fall of 2012, with Lakefront Arena serving as the venue for the tournament on a three-year contract. The first tournament was held in the city in 2014. In the fall of 2015, the conference membership voted to add an additional year to the existing contract to extend the partnership through March 2017. In addition, the membership agreed in the fall of 2015 to include all members in the tournaments rather than limiting the field to eight teams. The 2017 tournament will be the first year that all members will bring both their men's and women's basketball programs to New Orleans.
"Including all teams in the tournament will enhance the student-athlete experience and give all of our teams a chance to make a run for the Sun Belt title," said Benson. "Having completed our membership structure with 12 teams will also make for a more balanced tournament format."
"The staff of the Lakefront Arena has had the privilege of working with the Sun Belt Conference since 2014," said Lakefront Arena General Manager Marco Perez. "Working alongside an outstanding group of professionals has made this partnership a true success. Welcoming the faculty, students, alumni, and community of the great schools of the Sun Belt Conference to the Lakefront Arena has been our pleasure and we look forward to serving as the host venue for several more years. We are grateful for the vote of confidence in our venue, our services and our great city."
"We are so pleased to know that the Sun Belt Conference's men's and women's basketball championships will remain in New Orleans through 2019," said Mark Romig, president and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. "Students, alumni, family and friends who attend the games will experience a city that provides one of the most authentic and fan-friendly destinations in America, and we look forward to welcoming everyone to NOLA over the next several years!"
Benson added, "It is important too that New Orleans is the home of the Sun Belt Conference. Our corporate partner base within the city contributes significantly to the production of the tournament. Most notably is First Bank and Trust, which has been an outstanding corporate partner as they have served as the title sponsor of the championship since the move to New Orleans in 2014."
2017 Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball Championship Schedule
Presented by First Bank and Trust - New Orleans - Lakefront Arena - March 8-12, 2017
Wednesday, March 8
11:30 a.m. – No. 8 Seed vs. No. 9
2:00 p.m. – No. 5 Seed vs. No. 12
5:00 p.m. – No. 7 Seed vs. No. 10
7:30 p.m. – No. 6 Seed vs. No. 11
Friday, March 10
11:30 a.m. – No. 1 Seed vs. Winner Men's Game 1
2:00 p.m. – No. 4 Seed vs. Winner Men's Game 2
5:00 p.m. – No. 2 Seed vs. Winner Men's Game 3
7:30 p.m. – No. 3 Seed vs. Winner Men's Game 4
Saturday, March 11
11:30 a.m. – Winner Men's Game 5 vs. Winner Men's Game 6
2:00 p.m. – Winner Men's Game 7 vs. Winner Men's Game 8
Sunday, March 12
12:00 p.m. – Men's Championship Game
All times Central and subject to change.
2017 Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Championship Schedule
Presented by First Bank and Trust - New Orleans - Lakefront Arena - March 7-12, 2017
Tuesday, March 7
11:30 a.m. – No. 8 Seed vs. No. 9 Seed
2:00 p.m. – No. 5 Seed vs. No. 12 Seed
5:00 p.m. – No. 7 Seed vs. No. 10 Seed
7:30 p.m. – No. 6 Seed vs. No. 11 Seed
Thursday, March 9
11:30 a.m. – No. 1 Seed vs. Winner Women's Game 1
2:00 p.m. – No. 4 Seed vs. Winner Women's Game 2
5:00 p.m. – No. 2 Seed vs. Winner Women's Game 3
7:30 p.m. – No. 3 Seed vs. Winner Women's Game 4
Saturday, March 11
5:00 p.m. – Winner Women's Game 5 vs. Winner Women's Game 6
7:30 p.m. – Winner Women's Game 7 vs. Winner Women's Game 8
Sunday, March 12
5:00 p.m. - Women's Championship Game