The state high school girls basketball and volleyball tournaments are staying in northeast Wisconsin.
The WIAA and PMI Entertainment Group announced Monday morning that a long-term deal has been reached to keep the state girls volleyball and basketball tournaments at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon until 2020. This past spring was the first time in the girls basketball tournament's 38-year history that it was held outside of Madison.
Green Bay Notre Dame was one of four local teams that competed at the basketball tournament last March. Notre Dame Athletic Director Ken Flaten reacted to Monday's news.
"We are thrilled to hear it's staying," he said.
The environment that Flaten's team enjoyed was noticed by the WIAA, said WIAA associate director Deb Hauser.
"Green Bay not only rolled out the red carpet for us, but brought the fans into this facility," she said.
The crowds at the girls basketball tournament in March 2013 beat expectations. According to PMI, the company that runs the Resch Center, 39,966 tickets were sold over the three days. That was a big jump from the 30,353 tickets sold in 2012 at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Attendance was likely boosted because four local teams competed. Three of them (Algoma, Green Bay Notre Dame and Kewaunee) all played twice and won titles.
The Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated the area took in $3 million during the girls basketball tournament. The volleyball tournament, held at the Resch Center since the arena opened in 2002, brings in around $1 million, said Brad Toll from the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"We wanted the athletes, the high school girls coming in with their families, we wanted them to say, 'Wow, we want this to be our home,'" said Toll.
Despite the home-court advantage Notre Dame and other teams enjoyed at the Resch Center, Flaten said every female basketball player in Wisconsin noticed a difference from past tournaments in Madison.
"It wasn't the weekend after the boys. It wasn't the weekend before. It wasn't something geared up that the boys were the dominant tournament and the girls were going to play second fiddle to it. They were made to feel that they were on the top of the pedestal."
The WIAA said a pledge by the Resch Center to install a new scoreboard and improve the sound system by 2015 also factored into its decision.
This year's girls volleyball tournament is scheduled for November 7-9 and will be aired on Fox Sports Wisconsin. This will be the first year that girls volleyball will be aired live on over-the-air or on cable television.
The girls basketball tournament will be played March 20-22, 2014. The original agreement between the WIAA and PMI was for two years.
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