Why not Minneapolis for Big Ten college hoops?

Big 10 Commissioner Kevin Warren with MN WBB Coach Lindsay Whalen
Photo by Charles Hallman

Minnesota has been the home of Super Bowls, All-Star games, WNBA championships and Final Fours. Downtown Minneapolis, beginning next March, will be the home of the Big Ten WBB tournament for the next two years, and both WBB and MBB tourneys will be staged here in 2024.  

It was my first time attending the conference media days in my hometown instead of Chicago, Indianapolis, and other locales. But the two-day women’s and men’s basketball media days Oct. 11-12 for coaches, players, credentialed media and staff at the city’s basketball center also featured some grumbling about being in the Cities as if it were some distant outpost. 

Not everyone complained. “I like coming to Minneapolis,” Big Ten analyst Stephen Bardo told me.  

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren pointed out, “I was fortunate to live here for 16 years, all the way from high school basketball to college basketball. I think of the many games I was able to enjoy watching here, the history and tradition. I’m excited to be able to bring our Media Days here for the first time, and our tournaments here. 

“Minnesota, Minneapolis, St. Paul, the Twin Cities, this entire region is basketball hungry,” he said.

“We are a part of the team that helped bring those tournaments here,” added Meet Minneapolis CEO Melvin Tennant.   

Ben Johnson
Photo by Charles Hallman

Minnesota Men’s BB Coach Ben Johnson said, “I think sometimes we live in a world where a lot of things get criticized. But I think when you have a Big Ten tournament that’s going to be played here these next couple of years, you have a city that does a great job hosting. We’ve almost hosted every major sporting event, whether it’s an All-Star Game, a Super Bowl, NBA Playoffs.”

“It’s obviously home to me,” stated Gophers Women’s Coach Lindsay Whalen, the Hutchinson, Minn. native. “I’m honored that we are going to be hosting such a great event. I know that everything that Commissioner Warren does is first class, and we’re going to do a great job of hosting the Big Ten basketball tournaments here for the next few years in a first-class manner.” 

Bardo, an Illinois grad, said, “I think sometimes the Big Ten conference [is] traditional, and so when people try to do things different than what tradition calls for, I think people get a little uncomfortable.”

Personally, I love going to Indy but hated it in Chi-town, with toll roads and 24-hour rush-hour traffic the norm. But those of us from here came and endured all of it to cover the games.

“I think Kevin Warren’s decision to bring it up here was excellent,” concurred Bardo, “because he’s trying to spread the wealth. So hopefully Detroit, D.C., maybe New York, all these places are in the [conference] footprint.”

I remember covering the first Big Ten hockey tournament in my hometown Detroit and heard similar grumblings from some that didn’t see Motown as a fitting place for college pucks. Now, years later, why not Minneapolis for the Big Ten college hoops?

“I’m sure in a couple of years we’ll have some stuff out west,” surmised Johnson on the fact that in two years, USC and UCLA expected to join the Big Ten. “I don’t think change and doing new things is a bad thing.”

“So, for those that may speak poorly of us,” concluded Tennant, “I don’t have anything to say. Just come back [in March] and you’ll see the fruits of our labor.”

Have an opinion? Share it below.