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A-10 tournament returns to Wilmington, draws economic impact

Katie Tabeling
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The Atlantic 10 conference recently announced that its women's basketball conference is moving to the Chase Fieldhouse. | PHOTO COURTESY OF BPG

The Atlantic 10 conference returns its women’s basketball conference to the Chase Fieldhouse this week, after last year’s event drew an estimated $2 million economic impact. | PHOTO COURTESY OF BPG

WILMINGTON — The Atlantic 10 Conference is in full swing this week, drawing crowds of fans to watch the Women’s Basketball Championship be played at Chase Fieldhouse until the final game on March 5.

This is the second time the 15-team championship will be played at the Fieldhouse. BPG | Sports, the owner-operator of the arena, signed a three-year agreement with A-10 tournament officials, with 2024 as the last year. The 2022 tournament brought more than 13,000 people to the city and more than 1,000 hotel rooms were booked.

It generated more than $2 million in estimated economic impact last year, Delaware Tourism Office Director Jessica Welch said.

“We’re expecting to see a similar or higher attendance at this year’s tournament, generating an even higher economic impact for the state,” Welch said. “We’re hopeful that tournament officials will choose to extend their commitment with the Fieldhouse after next year’s tournament in order to continue hosting the event in Delaware for many years into the future.”

The Newport News, Va.-based collegiate athletic conference brings teams from universities of Davidson, Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham, George Mason, George Washington, La Salle, Loyola Chicago, Rhode Island, Richmond, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis, St. Bonaventure, UMass, and VCU. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic bid to the Women’s NCAA tournament on March 12.

Early rounds of the A-10 tourney will be televised on ESPN+ or CBS Sports Network, and the March 5 title matchup is set for broadcast on ESPNU. Much like the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship last summer, state officials expect the broadcasting exposure to let Delaware shine bright.

“With the tournament broadcast on ESPN networks and CBS Sports Network, it also provides a terrific opportunity for Delaware to gain exposure with a national audience,” Welch said.

Delaware hoteliers have been working with A-10 officials and the universities from as far away as Illinois, New York, North Carolina and Virginia to ensure players, families, coaches and fans have the rooms needed ahead of time.

The Delaware Tourism Office and members of the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Wilmington city government, and New Castle County government also formed a committee to secure rooms and travel arrangements ahead of the event. This committee also worked on marketing initiatives to boost visibility for Delawareans and out-of-state travelers.

“This year, our office also worked with the A-10 officials to send a mass email to state employees encouraging them to buy tickets, and we implemented a digital advertising and geofencing campaign to help with ticket sales,” Welch said.

The 4-year-old Fieldhouse is home to the NBA G-League Delaware Blue Coats and features a 2,500-seat arena and sports complex in the Riverfront East corridor. It has also featured Philadelphia 76ers scrimmages and a handful of notable concerts in the past.

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