Posted 3/08/16 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
After attending the 2016 North Dakota State Class B Girls Basketball Tournament in Grand Forks this past week, I am once again perplexed as to why the North Dakota High School Activities Association (NDHSAA) has decided that the best venue for the State Class B Girls Basketball Tournament should be a football stadium. And secondly why, if the state tournament features the top eight regional girls basketball teams from across the state, is the tournament being held in the eastern part of North Dakota.
First, let’s look at this year’s state tournament venue, the Alerus Center. There is no doubt that the Alerus Center is a wonderful facility when it comes to being the playing field for the University of North Dakota football team or as being the venue for the State High School Football championship games. After all, the Alerus Center was designed to be one of the best indoor football stadiums in North Dakota.
But is the Alerus Center a good venue for high school basketball games, let alone the State Class B Girls Basketball Tournament? Hardly. Heck, no other North Dakota high school or college team plays its basketball games at the Alerus Center. The University of North Dakota basketball teams all play their games at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, which has also served as the venue for several high school regional tournaments.
Class B basketball, whether it’s boys or girls, is a small town fan-based sport. The fans are accustomed to being close to the action and the teams are used to playing in gymnasiums that are designed for basketball. The Alerus Center provided neither. Granted, there was a basketball court and there was plenty of seating for the fans at the Alerus Center, but the venue was woefully lacking when it came to meeting State Class B Basketball Tournament expectations.
And then there is the issue of which North Dakota cities should be considered as a host site for the Class B basketball tournaments.
For many years Bismarck and Minot, which are centrally located in North Dakota, hosted these tournaments. But for whatever reason, the NDHSAA decided it wanted to add Fargo and Grand Forks to the rotation mix. Again, not taking anything away from Fargo or Grand Forks, but one has to wonder what happens to the tournament attendance numbers on those years when the venue is in the eastern part of the state?
So going forward, the NDHSAA has decided that the State Class B Tournaments will be rotated between Grand Forks and Minot for the girls, while Minot and Bismarck will be primary sites for the boys.
As I’ve said many times in the past, Minot and Bismarck have two of the best basketball venues in the state when it comes to hosting State Class B Basketball Tournaments. That cannot be said for the Fargo Dome or the Alerus Center.
If the NDHSAA is going to continue to have State Class B Basketball Tournaments in Fargo and Grand Forks, then they need to make sure those games are played on a quality basketball court and in a venue that was designed for basketball games.
The State Class B Basketball Tournaments deserve nothing less.