Editorial: WIAA state girls basketball, Green Bay seem like perfect fit

9:37 PM, Mar. 19, 2013  |  Comments
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The WIAA girls state basketball tournament had quite a debut last week at the Resch Center. Not only did three local teams - Green Bay Notre Dame, Kewaunee and Algoma - win state titles, the community and the crowds that packed the Resch had to give visitors the impression that Titletown is serious about high school sports.

Everyone knows Green Bay is home to the Packers, and with great college teams in the backyard at UW-Green Bay and St. Norbert College, some might have speculated that a state high school tournament in this city would not be a real big deal. Those doubts were dashed on the first day of the tournament when compliments about the new location were raining down like 3-point jumpers.

"This is the perfect spot for the girls basketball tournament," Wisconsin Rapids Assumption coach Joe Birkhauser said when asked about Green Bay and the Resch. Birkhauser's praise is even more meaningful when you consider he led Assumption to the state tournament in Madison in 2005.

For 37 years the state girls basketball tournament has been held in Wisconsin, and up until last week, that tournament has always been played in Madison. The WIAA signed a two-year agreement with PMI Entertainment Group to hold the tourney at the Resch, and if last week's result is any indication, we think the change in venue was a smashing success.

Green Bay has a lot to offer, and the thousands of fans who visited last week to cheer on their favorite teams enjoyed some great basketball and an atmosphere at the Resch that can only be described as electric. It certainly didn't hurt that three area teams were on the march to state titles, but the crowd noise and the buzz for all of the sessions were impressive.

The attendance figures for this year's event were impressive when compared to the 2012 tournament held in Madison. The total attendance at the Resch was pushing 40,000 fans (39,731 to be exact), while the three-day total for the event last year in Madison barely surpassed 30,000 (30,353). That is close to $100,000 in additional ticket sales, not to mention the additional dollars spent on concessions.

Contract extensions always come down to money and what makes sense, and we think the WIAA should give strong consideration to making a long-term commitment to Green Bay. We think it would be a win-win situation for the WIAA and for the greater Green Bay community.

The community's support for high school athletics is strong, and though football will always be king in this community, basketball, notably women's basketball, has found a strong niche in Green Bay. The UW-Green Bay women's team has become a fixture in the NCAA Tournament, and there are several high school teams that are at the top of the heap every year when the state tournament is played.

We look forward to next year's state tournament at the Resch, and we hope the WIAA and the folks at PMI are able to agree on a contract extension that makes Titletown a destination for the best girls basketball teams in Wisconsin for years to come.

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