Breslin Center is ‘absolutely’ in discussion as high school basketball finals site remains undecided

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While the Michigan High School Athletic Association has every intention of finishing the boys and girls basketball seasons, it first needs to figure out where the championships will be held.

Starting in 1994, the MHSAA boys basketball semifinals and finals have been held at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, the home of the Michigan State men’s and women’s basketball teams. The girls basketball semifinals and finals also moved to the Breslin Center in 2004 and are traditionally held the weekend before the boys. The girls finals were held at Van Noord Arena at Calvin College in Grand Rapids 2018 and 2019 finals due to potential scheduling conflicts at Michigan State.

However, the MHSAA has had to reevaluate host sites throughout the school year because of the persistent coronavirus pandemic health concerns and restrictions in place. Both the boys and girls were set to have finals at the Breslin Center in 2020 before the pandemic wiped out the winter season before either tournament could be completed.

“Basketball, I think we’ll know that here soon,” said Geoff Kimmerly, the MHSAA communications director. “It’s just not been determined.”

Still, Kimmerly insists the MHSAA hopes to keep the championships at the Breslin Center.

“For sure,” Kimmerly said when asked if the Breslin Center is still in discussions as a host site. “Absolutely.”

In a normal year, the girls basketball finals are traditionally held at the Breslin Center on the third Saturday of March, with the two days of semifinals preceding. A week later, the boys semifinals and finals would follow the same pattern to close out the winter season.

This year, however, the MHSAA has reconfigured the boys and girls tournament calendars in order to accommodate the shortened basketball season that started competition on Feb. 8. Instead of having the boys and girls final rounds on separate weekends, the two tournaments will conclude a day apart from each other. They will also conclude later than usual.

The girls quarterfinals — quarterfinal rounds are held at neutral locations across the state — will take place on April 5, with the semifinals on April 7 and finals on April 9. For the boys, quarterfinals will be on April 6, the semifinals on April 8 and the finals on April 10.

Having the tournaments finish at the same time adds a new wrinkle to the equation to consider.

“Considering our basketball tournaments are running concurrently, those semifinal days, we’re going to have to decide how to do those. We’ll have that stuff soon. I think we’ve said that we’ll know within the next two weeks where everything is going to be.”

On top of that, the MHSAA is exploring its attendance options. Under current state orders announced on Tuesday, stadiums with spectator capacity over 10,000 can allow 750 fans. The Breslin Center’s capacity is 15,000 but it can choose whether or not to allow fans in.

“We’re working through those things,” Kimmerly said. “Obviously, with the calendar being different this year, that makes for some different set ups.”

On Tuesday, the MHSAA did make planning progress with another winter sport when it announced the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo will host both the team and individual wrestling finals.

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