The PIAA Board of Directors voted 29-2 0n Thursday morning to return the PIAA Basketball Championships to Giant Center in Hershey for the next four seasons, beginning with the 2012-2013 season.
The move is not a surprise to PIAA insiders. When the PIAA extended RFPs (Requests For Proposals) for the winter sports championships back in March, only one venue – Penn State – returned a basketball proposal.
But there was one problem: Penn State submitted a combined individual wrestling and basketball proposal in violation of the PIAA’s policy on championship venues. The PIAA executive staff had no choice but to ask interested parties to re-submit RFPs for basketball. This time, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts did submit a proposal, and it was substantially better than Penn State’s proposal.
Hershey reported submitted a zero-rent bid. Penn State reportedly submitted a bid that included reimbursed expenses of $74,000 per season. Neither has been confirmed.
In addition, Penn State has been angling to become one of the sites used regularly for NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Regional play. This makes total sense, of course, but those dates are the same as future PIAA basketball championships.
So in the end, once PIAA re-opened the bids, it was a fait accompli.
Andy Shay of the Patriot-News has a story from last night’s meeting (the vote was taken today) here.
The decision also satisfies several Board members who have been critical of the move to Penn State, which has seen declining attendance since the championships were first moved to the Bryce Jordan Center in 2006. Some Board members believe that the dominance of District 12 teams in the East has helped to tamp down the attendance numbers (undoubtedly true) and that a return to Hershey would boost the sagging attendance numbers (debatable, if possible).
Team and individual wrestling will remain at Giant Center and swimming will remain at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium for the next four years.