Goodbye Tacoma, hello Seattle.
After inhabiting the Tacoma Dome since 2001, the Class 3A high school boys and girls state basketball tournaments will return to Seattle in 2007.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced the change this week, naming KeyArena and the University of Washington’s Edmundson Pavilion as 3A game sites. The 4A boys and girls tourneys will remain in Tacoma.
Aaron Nations, head boys basketball coach at Everett High, said the change is a good idea. Everett is one of several local schools likely to drop from 4A to 3A when a classification realignment takes effect during the 2006-07 school year.
“Tacoma (Dome) was kind of big and empty,” said Nations, who coached North Kitsap to the 4A state tourney last March before accepting the Everett job in May. “It’ll be nice to get a little bit closer to home. I think it will draw bigger crowds.”
WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese said the idea of moving the 3A tournaments back to Seattle has been considered for several years. One reason is the dramatic dip in attendance, which has fallen from 42,000 during the four-day event in 2000 at KeyArena and Mercer Arena to 28,000 in 2005.
“If we can, we’re going to take the events to where they’re supported,” Colbrese said. “…When our attendance just kept dropping, people said ‘Hey, let’s get the event back in Seattle.’”
In addition, Colbrese said the switch to two Seattle venues should give fans more flexibility if both of their school’s teams (boys and girls) advance to state. Schools with two teams involved will play games at the same site with staggered start times, when possible.
The Seattle sites also potentially put the tourneys under a brighter spotlight.
“It brings us back into a major media market,” Colbrese said. “Seattle is the media market in the state. We believe that will be really beneficial for the schools and the kids.”