MAAC basketball tournament to stay in AC through 2026
By Carolo Pascale
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – As all of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) schools make the trip down to Atlantic City, New Jersey, for the 2023 men’s and women’s basketball championships, the city and the conference had done a lot of talking about its hosting contract, which was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2023 season. After much deliberation, Atlantic City is staying the home of the tournament through the 2026 basketball season.
“It is my pleasure today to announce that the MAAC have come to an agreement with Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall to extend the MAAC basketball championships for the 2024, 25 and 26 to this great facility. It was a long process that took a lot of work and effort,” said soon retiring MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor in a March 7 press conference. “We’re very proud to be in Atlantic City. We hear all the time from the teams how special it is to them.”
The tournament has been held in Atlantic City for the past four seasons and has seen its fair share of success and failure. In its first year hosting the conference’s biggest tournament, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the tournament.
This season is the city’s fourth iteration of the tournament and after the amazing run and story that Saint Peter’s men’s basketball had last year, the MAAC is expecting a big increase in fans and enthusiasm for keeping the tournament in Atlantic City.
Rider also played a part in the tournament staying in Atlantic City. Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo was the chair of the MAAC’s request for proposal (RFP) committee and the Broncs are one of the host teams alongside Saint Peter’s for the MAAC Tournament.
Rider Athletic Director Don Harnum said he is happy that the conference decided to extend its stay in Atlantic City with the hopes that it will continue to prosper.
“As the host institution, Rider University is excited to partner with the MAAC and Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall to host the MAAC men’s and women’s basketball championships in Atlantic City,” said Harnum in a press release. “Personally, I would like to thank the committee who oversaw the process as well as Jim McDonald, general manager, for their diligent work and commitment to securing a positive future for this high profile NCAA Division I basketball championship.”
In the press conference announcing the tournament’s return to the Jersey Shore, Ensor listed off a bunch of things that are helping engrain the MAAC Tournament into the community of Atlantic City.
“We’re going to have 1000 school children here on Friday, having an opportunity to see the Division I women’s basketball games going on,” said Ensor. We’re gonna feed them lunch, we’re gonna have basketballs for them to take home. We are committed to this community. The community needs these kinds of events because it provides role models for the young people of the city.”
With the 2022 MAAC Tournament already kicked off, Atlantic City and the MAAC look to continue the success the partnership has brought to this tournament and the next four with the extension of the agreement.