State tourney moves south

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, July 19, 2014

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John Shelton has traditionally put up a picture of the University of Texas’ Frank Erwin Center at the beginning of the season as the dream destination for his teams.

But instead of “The Drum,” it’ll be another picture he’ll post before his first season with the Alvord Lady Bulldogs.

“Now I’ll get a picture of the Alamodome,” Shelton said.

That will now be the site for the girls and boys University Interscholastic League basketball tournaments. The UIL officially announced this week the tournaments scheduled for March 2015 will move south to San Antonio’s Alamodome.

The Erwin Center had hosted the state tournaments since 1978. The boys tournament has been at the University of Texas since 1931, and the girls event since 1951.

“The decision to move the basketball state tournaments has been a difficult one,” said UIL Executive Director Charles Breithaupt in a press release. “The tournaments enjoyed a rich tradition in Austin, but in order to provide the best experience for student-athletes, coaches and fans, it is best to move the UIL basketball state tournaments to another excellent venue in Texas, the San Antonio Alamodome.”

The UIL began working on negotiating with San Antonio in June on the direction of its legislative council.

The agency cited problems with securing affordable lodging for teams and fans in Austin during the boys tournament that was held the same week as the South by Southwest Music and Film Festival.

Decatur boys basketball coach Drew Coffman, a regular attendee of the tournament, is disappointed to see it leave Austin.

“I’ve been going since I was 5 years old,” Coffman said. “I understand the reason why it’s going. It feels like a lost piece of my childhood.”

Decatur girls coach Billy Garner also is a regular at the tournament. He said it’s probably time to make the move.

“It’s weird after all these years, but it’s a good move,” Garner said.

Shelton’s Franklin team played in the state tournament this past year. He feared the UIL might not keep the girls and boys events together. He’s glad to see both make the move.

“It was good for my kids [at Franklin] to have the opportunity to play in the last state tournament. Now maybe our kids at Alvord will play in the first at the Alamodome,” Shelton said.

The girls’ state tournament will be March 5-7, and boys’ tournament March 12-14.

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