BLOG: AAA Has No Business Putting Basketball Finals in Barton
The Arkansas Activities Association threw up an airball with its latest news.
According to a tweet from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Robert Yates, the AAA has decided to move the basketball state finals from the Hot Springs Convention Center to Little Rock’s Barton Coliseum beginning next year.
Barton Coliseum, home of the AAA state basketball finals in 2013. Image courtesy Wikipedia.org
After the elimination of the overall state tournament, Barton Coliseum hosted the first two state finals in 1993 and 1994. Hosting duties for the finals were awarded to the Pine Bluff Convention Center in 1995, then North Little Rock’s Alltel Arena in 2004. The finals have been played at the Hot Springs Convention Center since 2007.
The move back to Barton is a step backward for the state finals.
Barton Coliseum, which opened in 1952, was once the state-of-the-art home of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans basketball team and a couple of minor league basketball and hockey teams. It even drew 1970s headliners such as the Jackson 5 and Blue Öyster Cult, according to its Wikipedia page.
Its recent history, however, is filled with monster truck rallies and Arkansas State Fair rodeo events. And now, the AAA state basketball finals.
Barton Coliseum is a bad venue for players and fans alike; as recently as 2009, a AAA newsletter claimed that the arena was “best suited for rodeos rather than basketball.” The same newsletter praises one of the other past venues, the Pine Bluff Convention Center, as being “near-perfect.”
Moving the basketball finals back to Little Rock is fine; putting them in a 60 year-old rodeo arena is not.