The rumors and speculation about possibly moving the Big Ten men's basketball tournament have been circulating for weeks, and on Tuesday conference officials confirmed it.
The tournament will be held in Indianapolis next month instead of Chicago.
The tournament has alternated between the two cities for most of its existence since it debuted in 1998 — except for two years when it was held in Washington D.C. and New York City — and it had been slated to be held at the United Center from March 10-14. But league officials felt Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis was a better venue for the event in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The decision to relocate the tournament to Indianapolis was based on multiple factors," Big Ten officials stated in a news release. "First and foremost was the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, officials and conference constituents. Hosting both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in the same city allows for cohesive testing and medical protocols for both events, as well as centralized accommodations surrounding the competition venues."
The Big Ten women’s tournament will be held just a few blocks away at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis from March 9-13.
The NCAA previously announced that the entire NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which follows the conference tournaments, also will be held in Indianapolis and the surrounding area.
The Big Ten men’s tournament was to be held at Bankers Life last season, but it was canceled after only two games were played. It also will be held there next season before returning to Chicago in 2023.
"The Big Ten Conference is grateful to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the city of Chicago and our partners at the United Center and the Chicago Sports Commission for their flexibility and to Indiana Sports Corp, Lucas Oil Stadium and the city of Indianapolis for being able to assist our basketball teams during these unprecedented times," the Big Ten added in its release. "The United Center and the city of Chicago have played a vital role in the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament over the past two decades and the conference looks forward to the tournament returning to the United Center in 2023."
The decision to relocate the tournament was made by the conference’s Administrators Council, which includes the athletic directors and senior women administrators from all 14 universities. It was made in collaboration with the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors and the conference office.