It starts with ticket sales.
“In 2010, we had a little step back in our attendance for the first time ever, the first time that we weren't the first venue to sell out ahead of all the others,” Brassfield said. “We didn't ultimately sell out.”
Was it because of the Thunder's surge of success? Was it because the local college teams were in a lull? Was it because college basketball nationally was going through a downward trend?
Yes to all of the above.
But if you watched many of the games last week, you know that flagging attendance is an issue in several places. Oklahoma City should look pretty darn good by comparison.
The city has a great track record of managing events, too. It excels at the behind-the-scenes stuff that most of us don't see. How the teams are treated. How the schedule is kept. How the arena is set up. Those details are important to the NCAA, and the All-Sports Association folks are among the best at managing them.
Brassfield says that his group gets a big assist from the Big 12, especially when it comes to men's basketball regionals. The conference is often brought on board to be the host institution; Oklahoma State and Oklahoma don't like to be hosts because by NCAA rule, their teams cannot play in a regional they are hosting.
If you're looking for another reason why OKC has fallen out of the men's basketball regional rotation, this host institution issue is a big one.
The Big 12 couldn't be the host for a men's regional in Oklahoma City this year or next year. It was already on the hook for this year's regional and next year's Final Four at Jerry World.
“Our normal co-host was committed in other areas,” Brassfield said. “I think that was a deciding factor (for the NCAA).”
But when Oklahoma City bids for men's regionals — which are open beyond 2015 — it plans to have help from the Big 12.
“We will definitely bid it,” Brassfield said, “and I think we will be awarded a regional.”
Look at what's already on the calendar over the next year or so, and you could see Oklahoma City being in line for all sorts of NCAA events in the future.
The love affair is on again, and it might just be hotter than ever.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.
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