The Atlantic 10 conference on Tuesday afternoon announced that its 2024 and 2025 women’s basketball tournaments will be held at the new 3,500-seat Henrico Sports and Events Center.
The $50-million, 185,000-square-foot facility is set to open in fall of this year. The 2024 tournament, set for next March, will be the first marquee event for the arena-side of the facility.
“This is a new, shiny toy. This is an unbelievable facility we have right here in our backyard. This going to be a gem of a building,” said Aaron Roussell, the University of Richmond women’s coach. “For us to be the first featured event, I think that’s very exciting for the league, and I think in particular for Richmond women’s basketball and VCU women’s basketball, and girls basketball in the area.
“I think girls basketball, with the success the women’s game has had over the last couple of years, is a really hot thing right now … It’s a great time for girls basketball in this area, and I hope this event only enhances that.”
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The announcement was made in conjunction with Henrico Sports and Entertainment Authority as well as Richmond Region Tourism, which partnered to submit a bid for the tournament after the conference last November expressed interest in the Sports and Events Center.
“The Henrico Sports & Events Center is a perfect fit for the Atlantic 10 women’s basketball championship,” A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said in a press release.
“It’s a new, state-of-the-art arena with all of the amenities to provide our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans with a first-class championship experience.
“It allows us to continue to host one of our premier events at a neutral venue, which is important to our membership. Additionally, the Richmond region community and media have provided extensive support for A-10 championships, making this is a win-win for the league and Henrico County.”
The first indoor sports center of its size in the region, the facility has been billed as a key tool in the county’s push to become a leader in sports tourism.
Located at 11000 Telegraph Road at Virginia Center Commons in Glen Allen, the facility will include 12 basketball or 24 volleyball courts, switched by the tap of a button.
In 2021, the 160 tournaments hosted by Henrico County generated nearly $60 million in economic activity, according to county officials.
Henrico Sports and Entertainment Authority executive director Dennis Bickmeier, formerly the president of Richmond Raceway, said in September that “big announcements” were in the works as a four-person team worked on the facility’s first full-year calendar in 2024.
Bickmeier attended the A-10’s recent annual meeting and gave officials, coaches and administrators a preview of what the facility will offer.
“We are absolutely ecstatic to partner with the Atlantic 10 to bring all the excitement and fun of March Madness to Henrico County and our region,” Bickmeier said in the release.
“The women’s basketball championship is precisely the kind of prestigious, high-impact event that the Henrico Sports & Events Center is designed to attract. It will deliver a strong economic impact, particularly for local hotels, restaurants and other businesses, and it will give local hoops fans an opportunity to watch outstanding, high-stakes college basketball in a beautiful, intimate setting.
“We cannot wait to show the Atlantic 10 and its universities, coaches, players and fans what we mean when we say we offer ‘Showtime. All the time.’”
The A-10 women’s basketball championship was held at the Richmond Coliseum from 2014 to 2018 and at VCU’s Siegel Center in 2021.
Staff writer John O’Connor contributed to this story.
Photos from the Virginia Tech women’s basketball season