AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) — The governing board for high school athletics in Texas approved a plan that would move the state basketball tournament out of Austin for the first time in more than 90 years.
The first state championship was held in Austin in 1921.
Ticket sales for the 2015 tournament were put on hold in April as the University Interscholastic League weighed their options for new dates and locations. On Wednesday, the UIL Legislative Council cleared the way for officials to work on a deal to move the boys’ and girls’ basketball championships to the Alamodome in San Antonio next year.
A final decision has not been made, but once a venue has been secured an official announcement will be made, a UIL spokesperson said.
In March, the Associated Press reported the rise in popularity of South by Southwest, which overlaps with the tournament, was forcing organizers of the state boys’ basketball tournament to consider either a change in venue or new dates for games.
“UT Austin and the entire city have been proud to host the UIL basketball tournaments for nearly a century,” said Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement with the University of Texas at Austin. “Our campus and our city remain great locations for athletes and fans from around the state. We look forward to hosting the tournament for the long term.”
An event that once drew more than 100,000 spectators, attendance over the past 10 years for tournament games at the Frank Erwin Center has dropped to less than 70,000.
A factor in the decline is the difficulty in finding affordable hotel rooms, according to Charles Breithaupt, executive director of the University Interscholastic League.
Vincent’s statement added that UIL’s decision to consider moving the tournament from Austin for 2015 “will give university and city leaders time to work with local groups and UIL officials to avoid scheduling conflicts and prepare for new hotel projects to be completed.”
But SXSW is driving the price of rooms up to $250 to $450 a night. The result is basketball teams forced to find lodging in surrounding towns, and in some case up to an hour away.
“We’re worried about it, because hotel space is at a premium,” Breithaupt told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in March. “Our folks are not going to spend $300 to $400 a night on a hotel — if they can get them.”
- The council also voted to create competitive cheerleading as a pilot program in 2015-16. Any continuation of the pilot program will require another vote.
- A UIL committee approved a pilot program that would give district champions in Class 6A, the state’s highest classification, a home game in the first round of the playoffs. If approved in October, the plan would be in effect for the 2015 season.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.