NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Southeastern Conference is prepared to make Music City its primary home for the league's men's basketball tournament.
Nashville, already awarded the league's 2015, 2016 and 2019 men's tournaments, will host many more men's tournaments, a person familiar with the situation said Monday. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the details of the decision have not been announced.
The SEC and the Nashville Sports Council said they will make an "historic announcement" at a news conference today.
The Tennessean first reported the SEC will be announcing 12 straight SEC basketball tournaments that will be held in Nashville with six new men's tournaments and three women's.
The SEC has held its football championship at the Georgia Dome since 1994 and its baseball tournament in Hoover, Ala., the past 16 years. Success with those sites prompted the league's athletic directors to vote unanimously at the spring meetings in Florida to authorize the SEC to look for a primary site for men's basketball.
"People get comfortable," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said at the spring meetings. "They know when it is, they know where it is, they know where they're gonna stay, they know where they're gonna eat, they know where the seats are."
SEC officials are very familiar with Bridgestone Arena. The home of the NHL's Nashville Predators already has hosted the men's tournament in 2001, 2006, 2010 and 2013 along with five women's tournaments. The arena has a capacity of 18,160 for basketball and is located downtown surrounded by restaurants and hotels with a new convention center that opened this summer across the street.
The SEC has not awarded the 2017 or 2018 tournaments yet and had been talking with St. Louis about 2017, Tampa for 2018 and Atlanta for 2020. Atlanta has hosted the SEC tournament 13 times dating back to the inaugural event in 1933 with Louisville, Ky., hosting 12 times during the 1940s and 1950s.
The league also has held its tournament in Birmingham, Ala.; Lexington, Ky.; Knoxville, Tenn.; New Orleans, Baton Rouge, La.; Orlando and Tampa.