A nearly century-old relationship between Austin and the UIL state basketball tournament appears to be coming to an end in 2015.
The UIL Legislative Council approved Wednesday a UIL staff proposal to move the boys and girls annual tournaments to San Antonio’s Alamodome starting next year. The UIL didn’t need the council’s permission to move the event, which has been in Austin since 1921, but because it was such a big decision, officials wanted the council’s blessing, a UIL spokesperson said.
Once an agreement with the Alamodome is made, the move will become official. The Alamodome has hosted NCAA men’s Final Fours in 1998, 2004 and 2008 and women’s Final Fours in 2002 and 2010.
Relocation talks were sparked by the boys tournament schedule conflicting with the popular South by Southwest music, film and technology festival. SXSW, held since 1987, had added dates in recent years that overlapped with the boys tournament. The games were at the downtown Frank Erwin Center, while the same area drew tens of thousands for SXSW.
The influx of people to Austin around the first two weekends in March has limited hotel space and skyrocketed prices for rooms that are available. when rooms are available.
Kennedale coach Doug Groff and North Crowley coach Tommy Brakel led their teams to state championships in 2008 and said there were no problems then finding lodging close to the arena. But the overcrowding problems have worsened within the last three years, said Groff, whose team returned to the state tournament this year.
In 2008, Groff and his players found out from the UIL where they would be staying the Sunday morning before the tournament. This year, Groff called the process “hectic.” His team found out on the Monday before a Thursday game. And Kennedale was left paying high prices.
After losing to Houston Yates in the Class 3A semifinals, Groff said he tried to cancel the team’s next night at the hotel, which had been booked. The hotel wouldn’t budge, charging the school what Groff estimated to be around $400 per room for 15 rooms.
“They released the rooms and we just happened to pick them up or we wouldn’t be staying anywhere near Austin,” Groff said.
Dunbar boys coach Robert Hughes Jr. said he was thrilled to hear the tournament was moving. The Austin hotel prices had become too much. Plus, the commute to San Antonio is more conducive to Hughes’ barbecue cravings.
“The [Texas 130] tollway takes you straight to San Antonio. I get off at Taylor and stop by Louie Mueller’s [BBQ] for some Brontosaurus ribs. Then it’s decision time in Lockhart between Smitty’s or Kreuz,” Hughes said. “[Moving the tournament to San Antonio] fits me great.”