By Zachary Baru
Eight champions may have been crowned in Springfield this past weekend, but you may just have to add one more to the list: the city itself.
As the MIAA Basketball Championships brought eight title games to the city between the MassMutual Center and Springfield College, the tournament brought along a flood of visitors to the Pioneer Valley from all across Massachusetts, making last weekend's championships a real success for the city of Springfield.
As visitors flocked to Springfield, it was the hotels, restaurants and retail shops that benefited the most. And unlike other events that center around only one venue, the MIAA Championships spread the wealth around the city. Both the MassMutual Center and Springfield College hosted four finals each, while the state finalist banquet was held at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The MIAA Basketball Championships were an excellent example of how an event can make an economic impact over multiple days and multiple sites throughout the city. Hats off to the Western Massachusetts Sports Commission for bringing this statewide event to the Pioneer Valley. One can only hope the MIAA makes a return to Springfield in the near future.
The case for a return of the MIAA Basketball Championships is simple. The MassMutual Center's renovations last summer include a new center-hung video scoreboard and LED lighting. And as for Springfield College, aside from its place in the history of the basketball as the game's birthplace, Blake Arena is the perfect, intimate setting for the sport.
This weekend was a win for eight teams. It was a win for the MIAA. But for Springfield, it was without a doubt a home run. Let's hope the MIAA brings the championships back to Springfield sometime soon. It is only right that in the state where basketball was born, the high school title is crowned in the city where it all began.
Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also writes for Sports Business Boston.