It appears the WIAA state girls basketball tournament has found a long-term home in the Green Bay area.
The WIAA on Friday morning unanimously voted to begin negotiations with PMI Entertainment Group to keep the tournament at the Resch Center through 2020.
In the first of an initial two-year agreement with PMI to bring the event to the Green Bay area for the first time, attendance for the 2013 state tournament increased 31 percent from a 27-year low of 30,353 last year at the Kohl Center in Madison to 39,731 at the Resch Center in March.
The WIAA braced for another dip in attendance with the event being held at a new venue, but what resulted was the highest turnout in four years with three area teams — Algoma, Kewaunee and Green Bay Notre Dame — capturing state championships.
The tournament had been held in Madison each year since its inception in 1976, but issues surrounding the Kohl Center’s availability because of University of Wisconsin men’s and women’s hockey teams came to a head last year, resulting in the move to the Resch.
Most coaches and players who spoke to the media during the three-day tournament praised the event’s organization, execution and build-up, which included personalized tours of Lambeau Field and looping video messages from Green Bay Packers players and other celebrities throughout the tournament.
Andrew Pekarek writes for Press-Gazette Media, Green Bay