(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by UConn Head Coach Kevin Ollie, UConn President Susan Herbst, UConn Athletic Director Warde Manuel, American Athletic Conference (The American) Commissioner Mike Aresco, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Executive Director Michael Freimuth, and other state and local elected officials, today unveiled the new logo for the 2015 AAC Men’s Basketball Championship. In April, The American announced that the XL Center in downtown Hartford will serve as the site of the 2015 conference tournament.
“Hartford’s selection as the host city for the 2015 men’s tournament has put us back in the basketball tournament business. While this is great news for next year, I am even more excited for what this means for the future and believe we can and should be in consideration for both more American and NCAA tournament events, something I will continue to push for our state,” said Governor Malloy. “We unveiled a new logo today that conveys a message to college basketball fans everywhere: come to Hartford next March. You won’t be disappointed. Go Huskies!”
The XL Center is the Hartford home of UConn’s NCAA champion men’s and women’s basketball teams, and previously served as a home site for the NBA’s Boston Celtics. The facility has hosted a number of NCAA Championship women’s basketball games and was the site of the Big East Women’s Basketball Championship from 1994 to 2013, during which the tournament led all leagues in women’s basketball conference tournament attendance, bringing in a total of more than 1,000,000 fans over the years.
“The American Athletic Conference is proud to be bringing its 2015 men’s basketball championship to the city of Hartford and the XL Center,” said American Commissioner Aresco. “I want to thank Governor Malloy, who was actively engaged in the process and is personally committed to this great event. I also want to recognize Andy Bessette and Mike Freimuth from the Capital Regional Development Authority and Chris Lawrence from the XL Center, who all played integral roles in presenting a compelling bid that we ultimately accepted.”
“We are excited and proud that the XL Center will be the site for next season’s men’s championship tournament,” said Coach Ollie. “It will give more of our great fans in Connecticut a chance to watch the intensity and competitiveness of postseason play. Last year’s tournament in Memphis brought together some of the top teams in the country and I know next year in Hartford will do the same. We want to keep Connecticut in the college basketball spotlight.”
“This is a very exciting day as we continue to celebrate the American Athletic Conference men’s basketball championship being held in XL Center next March,” said President Herbst. “I want to again congratulate and all those who worked so hard to bring the tournament to downtown Hartford. Our University is deeply invested in the continued growth of our capital city and this will be another great opportunity to showcase all Hartford has to offer.”
“In March and April, the entire nation saw that Connecticut was the 'Basketball Capital of the World' as both our men's and women's teams won NCAAs titles,” said UConn Athletic Director Warde Manuel. “The playing of the American Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament in Hartford next March makes the title even more appropriate. We believe that our loyal UConn fans will once again fill the XL Center for our men’s and women’s basketball games in 2014-15 and that will continue during the 2015 American men’s tournament.”
“The logo looks fantastic. I’m so proud to see Hartford’s name on it, further proof of our city’s on-going role as a sports destination for the state,” said Mayor Segarra. “I echo what Governor Malloy has said: come to Hartford next March. We look forward to hosting all the fans and working with the AAC on making the tournament an experience beyond expectations.”
“The reinvestment in the XL Center has made it possible to bring an event as large and significant as the AAC 2015 Men’s Tournament to the City of Hartford,” said CRDA Executive Director Mike Freimuth. “We look forward to hosting this elite competition and watching UConn as it begins another post season run.”
The American’s membership in 2014-15 will include UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa. All 11 American schools will participate in the 2015 championship. The format calls for three first-round games on the first day, followed by four quarterfinal games, two semifinals and the championship game. The ESPN Networks will provide television and digital coverage of the tournament. Dates for the 2015 championship will be announced in the near future.
The 2014-15 season will be the second straight year in which The American has the defending men’s and women’s NCAA champions in its ranks. The American was the only conference to place a team in the semifinals of the NCAA Men’s Final Four, the NCAA Women’s Final Four, the NIT and the WNIT last season.
Aside from the many basketball events held at the XL Center, the facility is the home of the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League and hosted the NHL’s Hartford Whalers. The seating capacity for basketball at the XL Center is 16,294.