Blogs and Commentary

posted 06.21.2011 at 11.34 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Morning Jac: MCLA's Greenville Gamble


When I arrived home from my week-long fishing trip to the wilds of Maine (no internet, TV, etc.), I didn't have to dig too deep into my email inbox to realize that the MCLA had made its decision about what city would be hosting the association's week-long championships over the next two years.

That place would be Greenville, South Carolina.

My urge – and probably that of many others – is to analyze whether Greenville is the right fit for the MCLA and if it's a viable location for five-day tournament featuring 32 teams. I'll resist that urge for one main reason: it wouldn't be fair. Although I've done some research on Greenville, I don't know enough about the city to make any proclamations about the choice (yet). And while I've known about the three different cities the MCLA was choosing from for a little while now, I don't know exactly what the "selection criteria" on which the decision was made.

What I can say – and I don't think many of the association's decision-makers would disagree – is this certainly has the look of a gamble by the MCLA. Choosing Greenville over San Diego and Denver, the other two finalists for the locale, is an obvious gamble. I mean, pick any aspect of anything, and then try to think of an instance where Greenville would come out on top against the other two.

It also looks to be a gamble putting the tournament on the East Coast. The MCLA has, and will likely always be, a "western" league – 20 of the 32 teams in the tourney this year were west of the Mississippi. Sending all of the teams to the East Coast is rolling the dice, especially when considering the tourney has never been hosted on the more logical West Coast. Also, travel costs will likely skyrocket from last year's Denver numbers as teams are forced to either fly into the small, local airport or bus in from Charlotte or Atlanta.

After talking to several individuals close to the process, I believe the MCLA was willing to take this potential gamble for one primary reason: Greenville really wanted the championships. The city rolled out the welcome mat for the MCLA brass, and the selection committee members met with civic leaders, the chamber of commerce and facilities representatives during their visit. There's something to be said for just being wanted.

Meanwhile, the San Diego bid, from all accounts, was uninspired. Denver's facility was first class, and will likely never be matched, but there were cost concerns and a pathetic turnout (although fault for the low attendance numbers lies primarily with the MCLA). And then there was the whole tornado thing.

Since the MCLA doesn't have the ability (at this time) to be proactive in seeking out a location and must work solely from submitted bids, Greenville might have been less of a gamble than we think. While the cities speak for themselves, there's more to it. As mentioned before, I'm going to give the Greenvillagers the benefit of the doubt. For the most part, I'm guessing the members of the committee that selected Greenville are pretty comfortable with their decision.

There is one reason the committee will have sleepless nights – especially when May rolls around – and from my perspective it's the only substantial gamble about this whole decision: the two-year contract. If Greenville bombs and the league is still locked in for another year, it'll be snake eyes for the MCLA.