Scottrade improvements reward SEC’s faith in St. Louis for tourney
ST. LOUIS — St. Louis rewarded the Southeastern Conference’s faith.
Based on the promise of major building renovations to come for the Scottrade Center, the SEC awarded its 2018 men’s basketball tournament to St. Louis. With the tournament a month away, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey toured the Scottrade Center on Thursday.
“We took a step of faith five years ago and it’s nice to see that faith fulfilled and to walk out and see the new scoreboard and the ribbon boards, just the brightness of it, it’s a different state,” Sankey said. “It’s the fulfillment of the faith we had and encouragement, and it’s something I know our fans will enjoy in a few weeks.”
The Blues and the City of St. Louis are in the midst of a $64 million renovation of the 24-year-old Scottrade Center. The first phase — including a new scoreboard, new restrooms, three new concession stands, LED lighting, a new sound system and other infrastructure improvements — has already been completed.
“We’ve had teams play here in NCAA Tournament games and the infrastructure was a question, and I think they’ve (Scottrade) done well to answer that question,” Sankey said. “And I think that’s enormously important to the city.”
The SEC is extremely competitive in men’s basketball this season with 12 of the league’s 14 teams currently posting above-.500 overall records.
St. Louis is a short drive from traditional league powers such as Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Arkansas. Plus, host school Missouri is currently fourth in the league.
“We’re here because St. Louis was aggressive in seeking out the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament,” Sankey said. “The leadership at the University of Missouri was a part of that. For us, it was intentional. We were intentional with our championship events.”