America East officials said Monday that they would consider bringing the league’s women’s basketball tournament back to Portland beyond 2018 if they can build on the success of last year’s tournament.

Nearly 5,000 fans attended the three sessions of the tournament last year and tournament officials are hoping to increase that this year when the America East tournament returns to the Cross Insurance Arena on March 3 and 4 with its quarterfinals and semifinals.

“I think from our perspective, we want to get through March,” said Matt Bourque, the senior associate commissioner of America East, at a press conference at CIA announcing the return of the tournament. “But I think based on the success of last year, if we can continue to build on that, there’s no reason we wouldn’t look at Portland in the future.”

Attendance is one factor, as officials hope to increase the 4,684 who attended last year’s tournament. So is continued corporate support. Brian Corcoran, the CEO and founder of Shamrock Sports & Entertainment in Portland, announced that MaineHealth has joined Gorham Savings Back as a presenting partner for the event.

“A lot of it is predicated by the support of the business community,” said Corcoran, who worked with America East officials to bring the tournament to Portland. “We will continue to explore the future of this … It’s been a great start. I think we all learned we can enhance it.”

The University of Maine won two games at the CIA last year to advance to the America East women’s championship game, upsetting top-ranked New Hampshire 61-52 in the semifinals.


Bourque said he attended college events, including the ECAC North Atlantic Conference men’s tournament, in Portland when he was growing up in Bath.

“At the time I was watching Brett Brown, the point guard at Boston University, and Rick Carlisle, the point guard at UMaine, play,” he said. “They’re both head coaches in the NBA now. Who knows what we’ll see when we come to this building and see events like that? Who knows what we’ll see when we bring our women’s basketball here?”

Tickets for the 2018 tournament went on sale Monday. Corcoran said one ticket will be donated to a community youth group for every ticket sold before Feb. 1. It will also be cheaper to buy tickets before Feb. 1. An all-tourney pass will cost $21.99 through Feb. 1, $36 after Feb. 2. Single-session tickets will cost $10.99 for adults and $6 for youth through Feb. 1, $17 and $7 after Feb. 2.

Officials do expect a boost in sales because the America East tournament will not conflict with the Class AA and A state championship games as they did last year when the state games were moved to Augusta and played on the same day of the America East quarterfinals. America East and the Maine Principals’ Association worked out a schedule that has the Class A high school title games playing on Thursday, March 1, and the Class AA state games played on Friday, March 2, followed by the America East tournament on the weekend.

“I think it will help,” said Bourque. “To ask them to choose wasn’t fair to either party. I do think there are enough fans who are going to want to see both.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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