The WIAA girls high school state basketball tournament has found a permanent home.
The state high school sports organization announced Monday that it will hold both the girls basketball and volleyball state tournaments at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon through at least 2020.
“The board voted unanimously to accept a proposal from PMI and the Resch Center,” executive director Dave Anderson said. “It certainly was influenced by the reaction and the response that we have always felt and enjoyed in coming here to the Resch for state volleyball and further driven home by our experience last March.”
The basketball tournament was held at the Resch for the first time this past season after previously being played in Madison since 1976.
Attendance at the three-day event was up more than 9,000 from 2012, and the total attendance of 39,825 was the most since the tournament was moved from four divisions to five in 2011.
It also was a rare occurrence in which the WIAA moved a state tournament to a new location and saw an increase in attendance the first year.
Having four teams from the area — Green Bay Notre Dame, Kewaunee, Algoma and New London — in the tournament might have helped attendance figures, but WIAA associate director Deb Hauser previously had pointed out that Madison also has had local teams in the tournament and didn’t necessarily draw the same numbers.
Although early on it might have been considered a long shot for PMI to keep the basketball tournament here, PMI officials always expressed optimism it would happen.
“I came here with that very intent, to do everything we could do to see if this was the place,” Hauser said. “All the things that happened made it a pretty done deal. Why would you leave?
“People were skeptical that we were using Green Bay as a way to leverage the Madison venue, and that was never the intent. We came here with our eyes wide open and looking at if this was the place. I kind of had the sense that it was.”
Perhaps more of a concern for those associated with the girls game is what has been a lack of a permanent home for its showcase event.
When the tournament was held at the Resch last season, it marked its fourth venue since 1998. It has been at the Kohl Center seven times during that span while also making appearances at the UW Field House (2002) and the Alliant Energy Center (2004, 2006 to 2009) in Madison.
“I think the news today is that girls have a destination,” Hauser said. “I think any girl who is competing now in volleyball and basketball, this can be their place to set their sights on as far as ending their season.
“With the warmth and the great support that is here, I think that is going to be a very positive thing as we go down the road.”
The volleyball tournament, meanwhile, has been held at the Resch since 2002. The WIAA’s contract with PMI had been set to expire after next year.
“We are hoping to grow our attendance at volleyball,” WIAA assistant director Marcy Thurwachter said. “It really has a lot of potential for growth as more people become exposed to the sport.”