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Big Ten Tournament adding Minneapolis as host, keeping football championship in Indianapolis

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 12 Big Ten Tournament - Indiana v Iowa Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Big Ten Conference announced on Wednesday that the league has officially set locations for the football championship game and the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments through 2024.

Football will remain in Indianapolis, while the women’s tournament heads to Minneapolis for 2023 and 2024, and will be joined by the men’s tournament in 2024. The 2023 men’s tournament was previously scheduled for Chicago, per a prior announcement.

The football championship game will remain in Indianapolis through 2024 and has been played at Lucas Oil Stadium for all 11 matchups since its inception. Michigan State is 2-1 in conference championship games during that span, having played in the championship game in 2011, 2013, and 2015.

The new dates announced for Lucas Oil Stadium include the previously announced Dec. 3, 2022 championship game and also Dec. 2, 2023 and Dec. 7, 2024. All of those dates fall on a Saturday. No announcement has been made for league championship games beyond 2024.

As for the men’s basketball tournament, Minneapolis will become the fifth city to ever host the event, which dates to 1998. The tournament originated in Chicago and has grown to mostly rotate with Indianapolis. It was also held in Washington, D.C. in 2017 and New York City in 2018. Many league fans were critical of the decision to move the tournament to East Coast cities in those years, particularly as the 2018 tournament was held a week early due to scheduling conflicts with Madison Square Garden, which required compressing the conference season into fewer weeks and leaving teams idle ahead of the NCAA Tournament.

The 2023 men’s tournament previously announced in Chicago is scheduled for March 8-Mach 12, 2023, and the men’s tournament in Minneapolis at the Target Center is scheduled for March 13-March17, 2024.

As for the women’s tournament, 2023 in Minneapolis will mark the first time the city has hosted the event and will mark the first time that the event has been held outside of Indianapolis since 2015, when the tournament took place in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, outside Chicago. The event began back in 1995. The Target Center in Minneapolis also hosted the 2022 Women’s Final Four.

The 2023 women’s tournament will take place at Target Center from March 1-5, 2023 and March 6-10, 2024. No announcements for the men’s or women’s basketball tournament past 2024 have been made to date.

Speaking for myself, it was a bit surprising to see Minneapolis be named the host city for the 2024 men’s tournament. The event being moved to the East Coast in 2017 and 2018 was wildly unpopular among fans for its relocation to cities not more centrally located in the Big Ten’s geographical footprint. Minneapolis is on the northwestern edge of the league’s footprint and is incredibly inconvenient driving for at least half of the Big Ten. While the Minneapolis airport is a major hub location for Delta Airlines, that can also result in more expensive airfares to the city as a result for fans.

A more understandable decision would have been selecting Detroit and Little Caesars Arena as host for the men’s tournament. The relatively central location would allow fans the ability to drive to the tournament more readily or choose to fly to the other Midwest Delta hub of Detroit Metro Airport (DTW). While it is not clear whether Detroit formally made a bid to host the event in 2024, it has been stated by both Tom Izzo and Detroit officials that they fully intend to see Detroit host the event at some point in the future.