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The Atlantic 10 Conference announced Thursday the 2021 Men’s Basketball Championship, presented by Air Force Reserve, will be held on two campuses. The University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) will co-host the championship, which is scheduled for March 10-14, 2021. This unique, two-arena format allows the conference to deliver a superior championship experience for all A-10 teams that addresses challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two-site partnership will separate the four second round and quarterfinal games, traditionally played back-to–back at one site, for the first time in league history. Games 1 and 3 and games 2 and 4 will be split between Richmond’s Robins Center and VCU’s Siegel Center. Wednesday’s opening round, Saturday’s semifinals and Sunday’s championship final will be played at Richmond’s Robins Center. The location of each second round and quarterfinal game will be announced when championship seeding is announced.

“This decision is a great example of exceptional collaboration between the A-10 membership, our media partner NBC Sports, Barclays Center and our A-10 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee.  Independently both VCU and Richmond submitted proposals to host, so their willingness to combine efforts and support the league’s best interest to separate the days with four games is truly appreciated,” stated A-10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. “The fact that we have two premier arenas, within six miles of each other, willing to host is a tremendous advantage for the A-10 in our goal to provide the safest, best experience for our teams, coaches and campus communities. A-10 members Dayton, Duquesne, George Mason and Saint Louis submitted proposals to host and each would have provided an excellent option. I wish to thank them for their time, work and effort and willingness to host the championship.”

The unique opportunity to play the eight games across Thursday and Friday at two A-10 arenas in the same city, allows for operational efficiencies in implementing comprehensive health and safety plans by establishing two highly COVID-precautionary controlled environments. Participating teams will benefit from receiving additional time and space for pre-game stretching, warmup and shooting time because of transitioning from game to game between two arenas. Additionally, host institutions will have ample time to execute safety protocols related to ventilation, sanitization of shared spaces such as the team bench areas, locker rooms, scorer’s table surfaces and treatment areas. The need to hold teams in locker rooms to eliminate transitioning teams from being in close proximity will also be eliminated. NBC Sports, which broadcasts both the second round and quarterfinals to a national audience, will also benefit from the elimination of extended time between games, allowing for comprehensive coverage with the games being aired consecutively.

“We all felt that this unique format makes the most sense to allow us to play the championship in the safest manner possible with the best interest of our student-athletes and coaches in mind,” said Thorr Bjorn, Rhode Island Athletic Director and Chair of the A-10 Athletic Directors. “We are very appreciative of VCU, the University of Richmond and our television partners all working together, allowing us to make this possible. I applaud Commissioner McGlade and her staff for bringing this creative option to the table. “

The 2021 championship will be the first time since 2004 that the full championship has been contested on campus, when Dayton served as host at UD Arena. Additionally, from 2010-2012, the first round of the championship was held in the home arenas of the higher seeds. The A-10 championship has been played in part or in its entirety on an A-10 campus 18 times.

Built in 1972, the Robins Center underwent a $17 million renovation in 2013-2014 that has transformed it into one of the premier college basketball arenas in the nation, while drawing rave reviews from players, coaches, fans and media. The renovations created a more intimate game day atmosphere and included new state-of-the-art LED lighting, four large video boards, scoreboards, refurbished seats, new premium seating options, new terrace hospitality areas, a refinished/newly painted court and renovated restrooms.

The Stuart C. Siegel Center opened its doors in May of 1999 and has been a focal point for not only VCU, but the City of Richmond being located in the heart of the Capital City. The basketball locker room areas were recently renovated, which includes custom lockers for each player along with the Barkley Room, a three-tiered film room for team meetings and scouting sessions. The NBA’s Washington Wizards used the facility for their training camp home for six years and the arena quickly grabbed the attention in college athletics when it hosted the 2000 NCAA Volleyball Championships.

Richmond Set to Host Atlantic Ten Tournament in March; Games and VCU & UR  was originally published on espnrichmond.com

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