6:00: Morning News

Charleston set to host regional for 2021 TBT event

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Tickets sales and enthusiasm for Charleston to host the 2020 national basketball event ‘The Basketball Tournament (TBT) were high following its announcement last February until COVID-19 changed plans.

The City of Charleston and basketball fans in the Mountain State will get a rebound for this year as officials announced Wednesday that Charleston and the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center will be one of four regional sites for the 2021 TBT.

Best Virginia head coach James Long at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center (Photo courtesy of Dave Ryan)

Tim Brady, the President and CEO of the Charleston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) said this event, which features alumni basketball teams from West Virginia University and Marshall University, ‘will happen’ and will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks July 17-21.

Tim Brady

“For me and my staff, and folks at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center, this is kind of the reboot. This is the opportunity to pick up where we left off last year,” Brady told MetroNews.

‘Best Virginia,’ the WVU alumni team featuring the likes of John Flowers and Kevin Jones, and ‘Herd That’ the Marshall alumni team with Jon and Ot Elmore, will be the co-hosts of a 16-team regional.

The TBT announced four 16-team regions on Thursday including Charleston, Wichita, KS (July 16-20), Columbus (July 23-27), and Peoria, IL (July 24-28). Two teams from each region will advance to a championship weekend July 31-August 3 in Dayton, Ohio where the winner will receive $1 million.

The tournament field and draw of games will be announced in June, Brady said.

“It’s exciting because you’re going to get 16 really good basketball teams playing at a high level in the city of Charleston across the ESPN family of networks,” Brady said.

Brady said ticket sales were strong following the February announcement in 2020. TBT was then completely shifted to Columbus in a bubble-type setting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Charleston mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center

Best Virginia and Herd That were scheduled to play in the first round but the game did not happen due to virus issues with Best Virginia. Herd That went on to make a run into the quarterfinals.

Brady said the strength of the two West Virginia teams and the fanbases made Charleston an easy choice to host.

“We are hoping for all of those folks that were interested in purchasing tickets and attending last year will join us this year at the Coliseum and Convention Center for the TBT,” he said.

“We hope the enthusiasm picks back up and we are confident it will. People are looking for things to do. People are looking for things to look forward to.”

West Virginia is one of four regional sites in the 2021 tournament.

Tickets are currently on sale and being sold in session passes. Brady said the TBT will follow local health and safety guidelines when selling tickets and protocols inside the arena.

TBT will be part of a string of events returning to the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center that were canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The boys and girls high school basketball tournament will begin at the end of April and into May.

“Our local business community needs this type of entertainment. We all know it’s been a rough 14 months economically. It’s good to have more activity in the city now,” Brady said.

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