Brumby's Daily Column: November 1, 2005

Brumby looks at some of the news articles that are revolving around college athletics for the day and provides some thoughts on them and the world of Illini sports.

Outside of Dee Brown being named the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, the other big news out of the Big Ten office is that they are looking to end the rotation of the Big Ten Tournament between Indianapolis and Chicago.

Reading the article from the Indianapolis Star, it seems like the decision will be based on three major factors: (1) cost, (2) revenue, and (3) location issues. Notice the one thing missing from the decision making process, the fans. I don't think we should really think this decision will be about what the fans want, versus what is better monetarily for the Big Ten. Let's look at these three issues in a little more detail:

Cost
This is simple, the Big Ten is going to want to find the city between Indianapolis and Chicago that will allow them to spend the least on the rent for the stadium, and then the city who can work with the hotel industry to get the cheapest deals possible for the teams. Not much to really look at in this regard, as it will be a simple economic decision on which city costs the conference, and its member institutions less money. Each city will put together a package along with the hotel lobby.

Revenue
It all depends on what the revenue here means, but I think it will be a combination of ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, and concession stand revenue.

The obvious here is that there are just under 3,000 more seats in the United Center than there are in the Conseco Fieldhouse, so that is one benefit to the United Center, the ability to sell more tickets. I figure that concession revenue would also be a bit higher at the UC than in Conseco because of the additional butts in the seats. Does the Big Ten get any cut of the alcohol revenue from sales at that bar in the United Center? If so, that is a large plus for the UC over Conseco when it comes to concession revenue, as well.

The big benefit to Chicago here will be the corporate sponsorships. There is no comparison when it comes to the number of companies in Chicago versus Indianapolis, so the opportunities for sponsorships will probably be easier to get in Chicago, than in Indianapolis.

So I think the revenue opportunities point the Big Ten in the direction of choosing Chicago as the home of the Big Ten Tournament for the foreseeable future, but revenue opportunities is not the biggest benefit to Chicago, its logistics are.

Location Issues
I believe the location issues can be separated into two distinct categories: (1) transportation and (2) hotel logistics. With transportation the giant edge goes to Chicago because the city has two major airports, and getting flights for the teams (and fans) to Chicago is much easier (even for the team chartered jets) than getting to Indianapolis. While I do not have Mapquest memorized, I think Chicago and Indianapolis are both as central as you can get for teams that need to drive, so the benefit Chicago has with the airports puts them over the top there.

When it comes to hotel logistics for the teams, I am not sure which direction the Big Ten would lean in. In Chicago, you have numerous hotels that are all close to each other, but they are all in downtown Chicago, while the United Center is in the West Loop about 2.5 miles west, though I don't know of a soul that would walk that for various reasons. The city of Indiana is well set up for hotel logistics due to everything they need for hosting events (like the Big Ten Tournament) being in their downtown with the numerous hotels, the RCA Dome, and Conseco Fieldhouse all being close together, making it seem like an enclosed area in the city. The hotel logistics for fans in Indianapolis are definitely better, but I don't think it really matters for the teams because they get police escorts on their buses to and from the stadium anyways.

With the three criteria already laid out by the Big Ten, I figure the eventual decision will be to keep the Big Ten Tournament in its original home for the extended future, the United Center. One interesting side effect of this move, could be the Big Ten attempting to make Chicago their city. Just look at these comments by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany in the article:
I think Chicago is the biggest city that is most friendly to college sports. I think L.A. and New York are below the fold. Chicago could be above the fold. People in Chicago care about college sports. It's the third-largest market that really cares about college sports.
With conferences like the Big East extending to take in schools like DePaul and Marquette, the Big Ten can make a statement here to say that Chicago is their city, and putting the Big Ten Tournament here for the near future is a way to do it.

Now, as a fan that has attended the Big Ten Tournament in both Chicago and Indianapolis, I much prefer the tournament in Indianapolis. The set up is so much better, and all the Big Ten Tournament fans are in one place after the games, and it has more of a small town feeling that makes the experience better. In Chicago, most of the fans separate and go their own ways after the tournament games end, and it is just like any other night out in the city. I like the Final Four like feel to a Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis when all of you are in the city to watch the pageantry of basketball with a bunch of other fans.

Unfortunately, I think based on the criteria the Big Ten Office laid out, the tournament will be in Chicago. Good for the Illini because I like the pseudo-home court advantage provided in the United Center. But, this Chicago resident thinks a decision for Chicago over Illinois would be the wrong one for the conference to make.

In some news around the NBA, All-Century Team Member Brian Cook has had option picked up by the Los Angeles Lakers. Last night I was reading Forum Blue & Gold's review of the Laker's offense, and there was an interesting tidbit on Brian: he led the NBA in three-point percentage with the straight-on shot, and it was probably why Steve Kerr dubbed him "the league's tallest two guard" .

Also, since it seems to be controversial that I took on Mark Tupper's James Augustine prediction in his blog in yesterday's daily column, I will stand by my statement that James Augustine will not average 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks a game. I will bet the first person that e-mails me at john.brumbaugh@illiniboard.com a steak dinner at the place of their choosing (in an area I will already be in, I am not flying to pay off a bet, nor do I expect you to) if they are willing to do so. I would love to be wrong, but I just think it is as much as a lock of a bet as Wisconsin covering against Illinois last Saturday (oops, I was wrong then, too).


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