MOLINE, Ill. – The Missouri Valley Conference announced Wednesday it has extended an agreement with the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau to conduct the MVC Women’s Basketball Championship in TaxSlayer Center through at least 2021. The MVC Presidents Council, following a recommendation of the league’s coaches and athletics administrators, voted to extend the contract with the Quad Cities to keep the tournament in Moline.
The agreement extends the current contract for two more years (March 12-15, 2020 and March 11-14, 2021).
“The MVC Women’s Basketball Tournament has found the perfect home at TaxSlayer Center in the Quad Cities,” said Patty Viverito, Senior Associate Commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference. “We play our games in a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility, and the Quad Cities CVB, along the entire hospitality industry, rolls out the red carpet our teams and the welcome mat for our fans, ensuring a fun, family-friendly and affordable experience for everyone who attends. We are thrilled to make Quad Cities our home each March for the next three years.”
This year’s 10-team event will take place at TaxSlayer Center on March 14-17. The championship weekend begins with two opening-round games on Thursday. Four quarterfinal games will tip-off at noon on Friday, with the semifinals on Saturday afternoon and the championship title game on Sunday afternoon. All nine games will be available on The Valley on ESPN --the league’s cobranded digital platform available through the ESPN app.
The 2019 tournament will mark the 12th-consecutive season in its 37-year history that the event will take place at a neutral site. The Valley played its postseason championship in St. Charles, Mo. – at The Family Arena – for eight-straight seasons from 2008-15 and has held the event in the Quad Cities ever since. The Missouri Valley Conference is one of only seven conferences (out of 32 nationally) where the women’s basketball tournament is played at a neutral site, separate from the men’s championship (AAC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, MVC, Pac-12 and SEC are the others).
One of the premier women’s basketball leagues in the country, the MVC has seen an average of four league teams participate in postseason play in the last 20 seasons. The Valley has earned multiple NCAA Tournament bids in 11 different seasons, including a pair of bids in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The league has also had two Final Four teams (Missouri State, in both 1992 and 2001), a WNIT champion (Missouri State, 2005) and three WNIT semifinal appearances (Illinois State, in 2011, 2010 and 2009).
The history of Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball is filled with notable alumni, including the former NCAA all-time leading scorer (Jackie Stiles, Missouri State, 1998-2001) and the NCAA’s all-time leader in career rebounding average (Wanda Ford, Drake, 1983-86), both members of the league’s Athletics Hall of Fame. In addition to Stiles and Ford, eight other women’s basketball figures have been inducted into the MVC’s Hall of Fame, including Melody Howard and Cheryl Burnett (Missouri State), Cathy Boswell, Kristi Cirone Jill Hutchison and Charlotte Lewis (Illinois State) and Carole Baumgarten and Lorri Bauman (Drake).
“The Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau (QCCVB) began talking to Patty Viverito in 2011, and by 2015, we were able to design a product that the MVC athletes deserved. We are excited to know we will host seven MVC tournaments by 2021, and hopefully beyond,” said Lynn Hunt, VP Sales Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The tournament delivers a 1.3 million economic impact on the Quad Cities and kicks off our spring tourism season in March. It’s great to know that our hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues can count on this business for another two years.”
Since opening its doors in May of 1993, the state-of-the-art TaxSlayer Center has continually been recognized as an outstanding venue for sporting events, concerts or family shows, welcoming over 500,000 guests each year. The arena has a seating capacity of just over 9,000 for sporting events, and has extensive experience in hosting college basketball games, NHL and NBA exhibition contests, minor league hockey and arena football games. The Mid-Continent Conference (now Summit League) held its men’s basketball conference tournament at the venue from 1996-99, and the Quad City Thunder basketball team of the Continental Basketball Associations also played its home games at the arena for six seasons (1993-98).
“We are thrilled to be extending our partnership with the MVC though 2021,” states TaxSlayer Center Executive Director, Scott Mullen. “This is a tremendous event that allows our community a chance to experience the excitement and high caliber of play from some of the top NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball programs in the country.”