MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 SEC women's basketball tournament at Greenville's Bon Secours Wellness Arena had its share of hiccups — including a rain delay for a leaky roof — but SEC commissioner Greg Sankey had high praise for the city as a host during the conference's spring meetings Friday.
Greenville is in the second year of a three-year contract to host the SEC women's basketball tournament through 2024-25. The city first hosted the tournament in 2005, then again in 2017 and from 2019-2020. Sankey said there has not been any substantial discussion on whether the conference will renew its contract with Greenville after 2025.
"We've built something that is continuing to grow and draw fans in from outside the state of South Carolina," Sankey said. "Our fans have become accustomed to the downtown area, the ease of travel and travel options, hotels ... That's another one of these relationships we've created where we really appreciate the effort of our hosts."
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Downtown Greenville has undergone a massive revitalization in the last decade, with billions of dollars both public and private invested toward existing renovations, new development projects and infrastructure.
From Fluor Field, home of the Boston Red Sox minor league affiliate Greenville Drive, to new attractions along Reedy River, Sankey was impressed by how far the city has come when he returned to Greenville for the tournament.
"Greenville is one of those remarkable untold stories with the downtown area and seeing it when we were there in 2005 and returned in 2017, it was just total transformation," Sankey said. "We had a reception down at the (Center for Creative Arts) overlooking the river and I remarked to a colleague, 'I don't know what people know about Greenville, but standing here, they need to know.' "
Greenville also hosted multiple national events over the last several years, including the NCAA women's basketball tournament regional in 2023 and the first two rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in 2022.
Sankey said he hopes to preserve a relationship with Greenville regardless of whether the SEC women's basketball contract is renewed, but he noted that some members of the conference have requested the site be reevaluated in 2025 because its East Coast location creates a disproportionate amount of travel for teams like Texas A&M, Missouri and Arkansas.
"We've really been pleased with Greenville, but our membership is going to ask us to look, given that it's on the far east side, just to at least be open to other locations," Sankey said. "I think we'll continue on where we'll have a relationship with Greenville ... The fact that they hosted a women's (regional) last year, the year before had men's basketball, they've been in that rotation, and that speaks to us."
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Greg Sankey likes Greenville as SEC women's basketball tournament host