'17 & '18 WBB Championships Heading to Portland
PORTLAND, Maine – For the first time in nearly 20 years, the America East Women’s Basketball Championship is heading to the state of Maine. The 2017 and 2018 tournaments will be played at the Cross Insurance Arena in downtown Portland, marking the first time in conference history that the championship will be played at a neutral site.
America East, in conjunction with Shamrock Sports & Entertainment and the Maine Sports Commission, will make the official announcement at a press conference at the Cross Insurance Arena on Thursday. The decision was supported unanimously by the conference’s Athletic Directors.
“Maine has some of the most passionate women’s basketball fans in the country and we are looking forward to taking our championship to Portland in both 2017 and 2018,” said America East Commissioner, Amy Huchthausen. “Shamrock, the Maine Sports Commission and the Cross Insurance Arena will no doubt help us put on a first-class event and showcase our top-flight women’s basketball teams and student-athletes in a destination city with an incredibly supportive community.”
Shamrock, the conference’s corporate partnership marketing and sales agency, spearheaded efforts to bring the tournament to Portland and will partner with America East and the Maine Sports Commission on the venture. The Cross Insurance Arena will be the site for early round action of the 2017 and 2018 tournaments, with the championship game being played the following weekend at the highest remaining seed.
“We are optimistic that we can make Maine a preferred destination for the America East Conference Women’s Basketball Championship to benefit the people and businesses of our great state,” said Shamrock President and Founder, Brian Corcoran. “In addition to exciting basketball, this event will leverage our commitment to youth and community through great partnerships with local companies and charities. We consider ourselves lucky to be associated with a partner of the America East Conference’s caliber and will join hands with the Maine Sports Commission and the Cross Insurance Arena to make this an experience of a lifetime for the people of Maine.”
The 2017 championship will be the first America East Women’s Basketball Championship played in the state of Maine since 1998, when the tournament took place at Alfond Arena in Orono. That championship set the conference single-site attendance mark for a women’s championship, drawing 13,624 fans. The 1997 championship was played in a high-seed format with Maine drawing 12,218 fans for the three games it hosted that year.
This marks a return to roots for America East. The first championship in conference history was held in Portland when America East, then known as the ECAC North, played its men’s basketball semifinals and finals at Cross Insurance Arena, then known as the Cumberland County Civic Center in 1980.
Located in Portland’s Old Port district, Cross Insurance Arena underwent a $34 million renovation in 2014 and hosts several marquee events annually. The arena will also host complementary events to the championships, including a symposium conducted by the Maine Sports Commission and a Fan Fest.
“The Maine Sports Commission is excited to participate in welcoming America East Women’s Basketball Championship to the region,” said Maine Sports Commission Strategic Director, Sheila Nee. “Plans are underway to create a memorable championship experience that will energize the players, families, and community, as well as provide educational forums on the integral role sports, health and nutrition play in the development of young women.”
Steeped in women’s basketball history, America East has featured some of the nation’s top mid-major teams and players over the years, and this year is no exception as the league is led by a talented senior class. The conference has had multiple teams in the postseason in 11-straight seasons, which ties the longest streak among non-FBS conferences. That success also includes sending two teams to the NCAA tournament three times and collecting four NCAA wins. This year, Albany is receiving votes in the national poll, while the Great Danes and Maine are ranked in the Mid-Major poll with three other programs receiving votes.
ABOUT THE AMERICA EAST CONFERENCE
The America East Conference provides its member schools and their athletic programs a platform upon which student-athletes can achieve both collegiate and life success through the promotion and nurturing of its #3Pillars: athletic excellence, academic achievement and leadership, on and off the field. Now in its fourth decade of existence, the conference has evolved into one of the most comprehensive, broad-based Division I conferences in the country and is progressive in its approach to its more than 3,400 student-athletes. America East recognizes champions in each of its 18 sports and consists of members spanning from the Mid-Atlantic to Northeast regions of the United States including: University at Albany, Binghamton University, University of Hartford, University of Maine, UMBC, UMass Lowell, University of New Hampshire, Stony Brook University and University of Vermont.
ABOUT SHAMROCK SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Shamrock is a privately-owned premier sports and entertainment sales and marketing agency led by former NASCAR and Fenway Sports Group Executive Brian Corcoran. At NASCAR, Corcoran spearheaded business development efforts and landed the largest sports marketing sponsorship in U.S. history with the series entitlement of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, reported at $750 million.
Founded in January 2010 and headquartered in Portland, Maine, Shamrock specializes in strategic sponsorship and multi-media sales, naming rights, asset evaluation and development, as well as activation and measurement. Current clients include, but are not limited to, NASCAR, Professional Bowlers Association, World Series of Poker, Red Bull Air Race, Goulian Aerosports, Portland Pirates and TD Beach to Beacon.
ABOUT THE MAINE SPORTS COMMISSION
The Maine Sports Commission aims to promote Maine as a four-season destination for sports events and sports-related meetings and to increase the economic impact in the state by attracting new events or by growing existing sports-related events, including professional, collegiate, amateur and youth sporting events.
The Maine Sports Commission was created in February 2012 in response to the growing demand for information regarding sports events and sports-related meetings in the state of Maine. The leadership of the Maine Sports Commission includes representatives from seven of the eight tourism regions, the Maine Office of Tourism, representatives from the Bangor and Portland Convention & Visitors Bureaus, and representatives from the sports, education, and tourism industries. The seven tourism regions participating in the commission are the Maine Beaches, the Greater Portland & Casco Bay Region, the Mid-Coast Region, Western Maine’s Lakes & Mountains, Aroostook County, the Kennebec & Moose River Valley regions and The Maine Highlands.