April 15, 2014
American Athletic Conference 2016, 2017 Men’s Basketball Tournament Announcement
Orlando, Fla., Amway Center, April 15, 2014
Below are selected quotes from participants in Tuesday's press conference to announce the American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship will be held at Orlando's Amway Center in 2016 and 2017.
American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco
“With the winter we’ve had in the Northeast, it’s a pleasure for me to be here, believe me. I’m pleased to announce that Orlando’s Amway Center will host the American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championships in 2016 and 2017.
“We’re delighted. I want to take a moment to thank and congratulate the City of Orlando, Orange County, the Central Florida Sports Commission, Amway Center and the University of Central Florida for their efforts in bringing our conference tournament here. You’ve welcomed the American Athletic Conference into a state-of-the-art arena in one of our country’s premiere destinations.
“The desire of and commitment of this community to host the American Athletic Conference Championship was vigorously communicated to us from the very beginning.
“They (UCF) have been very supportive of the American Athletic Conference. I also want to recognize UCF President John Hitt. He has been a great supporter of the conference. He’s also been actively engaged in the larger issues facing intercollegiate athletics.
“We’re embarking on a real adventure. We’ve come a long way in a short period of time. Our decision to come to Orlando is in part a function of our stated desire to rotate this event to various points within our conference footprint, but also to offer our fans an outstanding destination, a state-of-the-art arena in a place where we will have tremendous community support. What we want to do is make sure we provide you with great competition, with a lot of visitors. I believe we will.
“There’s a lot of buzz around our conference and it’s only going to get better. All 11 of our schools will participate in the championship. ESPN Networks will provide live television and digital coverage of the championship.
“We’ve had a remarkable inaugural year as you know. UCF upset Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl and finished 10th in the final AP Poll. We’re obviously proud of what they accomplished and it’s only going to get better for them. George (O’Leary) has built a tremendous program. The momentum continued through basketball season. Five teams were in the AP and coaches poll at the end of the regular season. Four teams attaining NCAA Tournament bids – we, of course, thought it should have been five – and UConn’s incredible run to the championship. Their fourth title and two in four years, an unprecedented and remarkable accomplishment. The UConn women started the season ranked No. 1, dominated the entire way, finished 40-0 and earned a ninth basketball title.
“We’re pleased that Orlando has shown great confidence in our conference. We think our success reflects the commitment of our presidents, our athletic directors, our sport administrators, our coaches and our superb student-athletes. They play at the highest level, but if you look at our conference, they display great sportsmanship and they are very accomplished in the classroom and that’s obviously the most important thing.
“I look forward to returning to Orlando often in the coming years. I want to thank all of you for your support. It’s great to be in this great community.”
UCF head men's basketball coach Donnie Jones
"It’s great to be here. There’s a lot of excitement. With the opportunity to have our conference tournament here in Orlando, it’s obviously an exciting time for not only our school but also our basketball program. We’ve been very fortunate to be in one of the best basketball conferences in the country, and to have five teams in the Top 25. Obviously we had the opportunity to play a lot of those teams this year, twice. It was a great experience.
"The exposure that we’ve been able to have being a part of The American has been second-to-none. That’s a credit to the people in The American. Now to have the opportunity to host this tournament here, many thanks go out to Mayor Jacobs and Mayor Dyer. This is one of the best places if not the best place I’ve been in to watch a game. Having a chance to watch the NCAA Tournament games here, I thought it was a great venue for all the fans here in Central Florida.
"This is turning into a great basketball community. We’ve had four state high school champions right from right here in Central Florida and we’ll have four kids from the Orlando area on our team so we’ll have all their families here able to come to the games, which is a great asset for us to have. It’s great to be able to be a part of this and we’re thankful for the opportunity. Hopefully we’ll have 20,000 Knights fans here like we see when we go play at Memphis and places like that.
"It’s very exciting, number one, to be able to be able to play our home games right here in Orlando, and now to just be able to ride up the road and play our conference tournament here, it’s great for our fans, and great for the families of our kids. We’ll have four kids on our roster from right here in the Central Florida area, so there’s a lot of excitement to be able to have the conference tournament here.
"All of these kids grew up wanting to play at the Amway Center, especially those in this area. To have the opportunity to play in a pro arena – we played in one in Memphis – and now to be able to do that here in our city, it’s a great opportunity for our program.
"It’s incredible. I can’t think of a conference in its first year that had more impact than what the American Athletic Conference has had. From men’s basketball to women’s basketball to football. From a basketball standpoint, you look at UConn who was fourth in the league and go on to win the National Championship. There’s so much excitement to build on.
"We’ve always talked about how great it would be to have a conference tournament right here because we have one of the best destinations in the country. There’s a love for basketball as we saw recently with the NCAA Tournament here a few weeks ago. This is a great opportunity for us.
UCF Director of Athletics Todd Stansbury
"When I came to UCF a little over two years ago one of the priorities for me was to make UCF Athletics an indispensable partner to both the University and to the Central Florida community. I think this is a great example of that partnership. At UCF we pride ourselves on being great community partners and this is an event that we’ve worked with the Central Florida Sports Commission, Orange County, and the City of Orlando to bring to Orlando, which I think is the greatest sporting city in the country. I think a lot of people don’t know that yet.
"It’s going to be a great event. We’ll also be hosting the Women’s College Cup Soccer National Championship here as well in our brand new soccer facility. The best is yet to come.
"Two years ago we thought we were going to be the new member of an old conference. It turned out, as things kind of changed and evolved, we ended up being a leader in a new conference.
"What a year it has been in the inaugural year. UCF has done its part with football and then what has happened with basketball just shows you the strength of this conference and what it is going to mean on the national scene. It is our goal at UCF to bring as many American Athletic Conference Championship events (as we can) to the Central Florida region."
Central Florida Sports Commission President John Bisignano
“March Madness is passion. We all know that we celebrated March Madness just a couple weeks ago with the (NCAA) Second and Third Rounds here at the Amway Center. It was just absolutely outstanding the way this community came to life for that event. With that event, it literally set the tone and brought this opportunity to us to host the (American Athletic Conference) Men’s Basketball Championship in 2016 and 2017.
“We’re fortunate to have UCF as a great community partner. Todd Stansbury, Zack (Lassiter), Donnie Jones … they are great community partners and are great to the (American Athletic Conference). They’re going to be great with us as we do more things besides this men’s basketball championship with the AAC.
“The commissioner hit some key points about this destination. We are literally the No. 1 tourist destination in the world. We’ve got great attractions. We’ve got great weather. But it begins and ends with these great venues that we have. The last pillar is the team. Collectively, all of us in this room today are a big part of that team. At the centerpiece of that team are Mayor Jacobs and Mayor Dyer. We would not be here without their support.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer
“I’m pleased to be here to celebrate another big win for our community. Back in 2007 when we were talking about community venues, this is exactly the type of marquee event we promised our community that we would bring to the Amway Center. It is great to be able to deliver on that.
“Having the (NCAA) Second and Third Rounds here … oh my gosh, so much excitement. I’m sure we’ll see that same type of excitement around the (American Athletic Conference)Tournament here in ’16 and ’17.
“When our hometown university, UCF, found itself in a new conference, it only made sense for us to pursue the men’s basketball tournament. Commissioner, I can promise you, you’ll be playing in the best arena in the country and the world. I’m even going to predict that the weather is going to be a little bit better in Orlando than it will be in Hartford in March of next year.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs
“It’s great to be back here at the Amway (Center). It’s especially great to be welcoming this event, seeing what we dreamed and hoped or in 2007 come to fruition.
“The Amway Center and our other community venues play such an important part in economic development to our region. The American Athletic Conference men’s championship will be a perfect fit – a perfect marriage – with 6,000 hotel rooms and $5 million in economic impact.
“I don’t know of a community that’s in a better position to handle this, because what we do day in and day out is welcome visitors and treat them like our guests here. Commissioner, we look forward to the opportunity to have you back. I understand your goal of moving these events around. We hope, after ’16 and ’17, you’ll come to your senses and decide there’s no place like home, our home.
“We look forward to rolling out the red carpet. We have one of the friendliest communities on the planet. All that you dream of when you go to Disney becomes a reality when you live here in Orlando. So, thank you for giving us this opportunity. We take great pride and joy in welcoming you all.”