SALINA, Kan. — A major event that had been a staple for the city of Salina is leaving town.
The National Junior College Athletic Association is moving its women’s basketball championship to Texas after next year.
For the past 17 years, junior college women’s basketball teams have been coming here in March to compete for a championship but the Bicentennial Center in Salina will host the tournament just one more time before it moves to Lubbock, Texas.
“Anytime you lose an event that takes up seven days in your building, that’s a big deal,” said Ron Rideout, General Manager of the Bicentennial Center.
A decision that could have a huge impact for Salina in the form of lost tourism dollars.
“It’s consistent business and it drives people in from the community and from the local areas and you know from outside of that that wouldn’t normally come to your facility,” said Rideout.
The decision by the NJCAA came this week during their annual meeting in Colorado Springs saying, “The decision to part ways was a difficult one and was not taken lightly… The NJCAA greatly appreciates the hard work and passion that the city of Salina, it’s volunteers and tournament director Tiffany Benien have put in to the championship.”
The city of Salina says it’s a major loss
“Salina has really built a nice group of volunteers, host families, things like that that has been really strong and I think that’s something that we probably do better than anybody else,” said Aaron Householter, Salina’s Vice Mayor.
While the city stands to lose out on a lot of money from the move, they say it’s about more than just money.
“Salina gets behind these events and it’s near to their hearts, not just their pocket books,” said Householter.
The decision comes right as the center is about to get a multi-million dollar renovation.
“We’re just investing about 10 – 10.5 million dollars into our Bicentennial Center,” said Householter.
And they have high hopes for the future.
“I’m sure with a year and half from now I’m sure we’ll be able to fill that void with something else,” said Rideout.
Hutchinson hosts the Men’s National Junior College Basketball Tournament and could also be at risk for losing it at the end of their contract.