The NCAA has decided to move their Division II NCAA Championships this season clear across the country from Cleveland, Ohio to Brimingham, Alabama, they announced today.
The festival will include the NCAA Championship meets for men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s indoor track, and wrestling, and will be held from March 3rd-9th.
The move came as a response to c0aches who were concerned over the location of the Spire Institute in Cleveland that was set to host the competition and the hotels in downtown Cleveland 45 minutes away.
One Division II coach we spoke with lauded the relocation, despite the late decision. “This is a really good move, especially for the student-athletes. We were looking at one-way travel times of 45-50 mintues between the hotels in downtown Cleveland and the Spire Institute where the competition venues were located.”
These championships will be held at Birmingham’s CrossPlex multisport facility, which has a 10-lane 50 meter pool with 8 rows of elevated seating running the length of the pool (though no exact capacity figure was available). The Complex is the home of athletics for nearby Birmingham Southern College, a Division III school that is adding swimming for the first time this fall. Most importantly, the venue is only a quick 15-minute drive to the Festival hotels.
“We’ve advocated bringing events to the Greater Birmingham Area for many years,” said Gulf South Commissioner Nate Salant. “This is a true sports mecca, and with the GSC in town since 1978, there is a lot of Division II history here. Visitors will find a warm, welcoming community with great hotels, terrific and diverse restaurants and springtime weather.
These “festivals” have become a big draw for NCAA Division II athletics in recent years, as they host a number of typically Olympic-type sports at the same time in the same general vicinity. This increases the visibility of all sports involved, decreases some costs to programs, and creates exactly what the name portrays: a festival-like atmosphere.