New Orleans or bust: SBC now in the ‘Big Easy’
For the past four years the Sun Belt Conference basketball tournament has been in Hot Springs, Ark. Before that it was stationed in Mobile, Ala. Every four years the city that holds the SBC tournament is changed and a new contract is made. Hot Springs has held the conference in the recent past and collected hefty revenue along the way.
There are 10 schools with basketball teams in the SBC and almost every one of those teams have a large pep band and dance team alongside them. At least five of those schools are in close proximity to Arkansas, which means they can bring a large and devoted fan base to the tournament.
This entire five-day event involves hotel rooms for each school’s team, band members, and dance team through the conference. Furthermore, all of the die-hard fans from each team close to Arkansas could come and enjoy the tournament. Patrons would money at local shops, restaurants and hotels. Holding an event of this magnitude and popularity can potentially boost a city’s income tremendously. Our very own Hot Springs has been reaping these benefits for the past four years, but now the SBC Tournament has moved on. This year the SBC basketball tournament will be stationed in none other than New Orleans, La. The tournament will take place Mar. 12-16 at the Lakefront Arena.
Hot Springs will be without this boost to their local economy, which may take a toll on the city and its economy.
Though the tournament has moved, it should still attract a full crowd from two Louisiana teams, two Arkansas teams, and two Texas teams. This venue may be even more enticing to fans than Hot Springs. Because of the immense tourist attraction that New Orleans is know for, many will make a full vacation out of the trip and spend mounds of cash to have fun. Hot Springs is a local attraction in Arkansas and surrounding areas, but not remotely close to the scale of the Big Easy. Bourbon Street will be spilling over the edges with fans from Texas, ULM, Arkansas, and more all with full pockets potentially ready to experience the full extent of this historical city. It is unfortunate that the tournament will no longer be held in Hot Springs, yet the city will still survive due to its own historical luster.
As for the tournament move, it could potentially attract a multitude of new fans and more fans mean more exposure for teams and players and it will possibly help to procure more support for each team. The teams and fans will join in on the experience, so even though we have lost this event as a local attraction, it may prove to be a good move going forward.