The UIL Legislative Council is expected to discuss and possibly make a decision Wednesday on the future location and dates of the state basketball tournament. The council convened Tuesday in Round Rock.
The state tournament has been held yearly in Austin since 1921, usually near the end of February for the girls tournament followed a week later by the boys tournament. A problem in recent years has been that the boys tournament often conflicts with South by Southwest, the popular music, film and technology festival that increasingly draws crowds of tens of thousands to Austin, placing a high demand on hotel rooms.
“The UIL is considering the best possible solution to the difficulties with availability and affordability of hotels caused by concurrent events, as well as other event-related issues,” the UIL posted on its website in April, announcing that ticket sales to the 2015 tournament would be placed on hold.
North Crowley boys coach Tommy Brakel said his team in 2008 was able to stay near downtown Austin, close to the Frank Erwin Center, where the state tournament is held. The UIL assists teams in booking hotels. But this year some teams were forced to stay around an hour away from the arena. DeSoto’s boys team stayed 50 miles from Austin, in Marble Falls, and Nazareth stayed 60 miles away in Horseshoe Bay, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
And for coaches without teams in the tournament, but who want to take their staffs down for the weekend, it’s become nearly impossible to find a room, Brakel said.
“There’s just too much price-gouging going on down there,” Brakel said. “You can hardly find a hotel, and the hotels you can find, are three, four and five times more than the regular price. I think the UIL realized that something needed to be done.”
Brakel, an active member of the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, said he would prefer the UIL keep the tournament in Austin, but adjust the boys tournament dates to avoid SXSW. Next year, SXSW is scheduled for March 13-22, a week later than this year. But Brakel said there’s been strong talks of moving the event permanently, likely to San Antonio.
“It’s been something that’s kind of been growing and growing with displeasure the last five or six years,” Brakel said. “This year, it finally came to a head with the price-gouging and teams not being able to get to the games as easily as their opponents.”