Women’s college basketball fans will be back at Moline’s TaxSlayer Center after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus when Hoops in the Heartland tips off at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 10. As always, there’s a lot riding on the Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament for the top-level college athletes from 10 colleges and universities who will […]
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Women’s college basketball fans will be back at Moline’s TaxSlayer Center after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus when Hoops in the Heartland tips off at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 10.
As always, there’s a lot riding on the Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament for the top-level college athletes from 10 colleges and universities who will compete in the March 10-13 tournament in the downtown Moline civic center.
This year, that not only includes the MVC women’s basketball conference championship, but a chance to have their skills featured for a national audience on ESPNU for the first time in tournament history. Then, as always, there’s the annual top prize: an automatic bid to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
The players aren’t the only ones with a little extra skin in the game this time around, however. The Quad Cities region also has more than usual riding on the success of a tournament that has been a staple in our community since 2016.
If we want it to stay that way, regional leaders such as Visit Quad Cities President and CEO Dave Herrell say the community will need to show its support in 2022. That’s important, he said, as new leaders take charge of a tournament only under contract in the Quad Cities through 2024.
Visit Quad Cities and the community have worked hard to develop strong relationships with tournament leaders, Mr. Herrell said. As those new ones come on board, it will be important to demonstrate how much the Quad Cities values the tournament and is committed to supporting it. It also doesn’t hurt to remember that events like these aren’t easy to get, Mr. Herrell said.
“The way to have nice things,” he told the QCBJ Thursday, “is to support them.”
How? “We need the business community to buy tickets,” Mr. Herrell added. “We need families to come out” and cheer on a tournament that has a $1.3 million annual economic impact on the Quad Cities.
Harder to quantify, but no less important, is the impact on worker retention and attraction that events like this have for the community, Mr. Herrell said.
For example, the tournament showcases the best the Quad Cities has to offer for players from Bradley, Drake, Evansville, Illinois State, Indiana State, Loyola, Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, and Valparaiso, their parents, and fans who come to the Quad Cities to support them.
ESPNU’s coverage this year also will help spread the word about the tournament, the TaxSlayer and the Quad Cities region.
This year’s tournament also carries extra weight for two other reasons:
- It allows the Quad Cities to show the community’s support for women sports by coming out to watch amazing female athletes at work as the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of Title IX.
- It represents a return to normal, or at least a new normal, for a tournament that was canceled outright in 2020 even as players were warming up on the court just before the first game was set to tip off. The show went on in 2021, but only a very limited number of fans were allowed to see it in person.
That’s not a problem this year, Mr. Herrell said. Getting tickets is easy and you can take in as many or as few games as you like. Tickets can be purchased at the TaxSlayer Center box office or online at www.taxslayercenter.com. Tickets are $12, $20, or $25 per day or $65 for reserved seat All-Session tickets. For complete information on the tournament, go to www.mvcquadcities.com or download the Hoops in the Heartland App.
Game times are:
- Opening Round Session – Thursday, March 10, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.;
- Quarterfinal Session No. 1 – Friday, March 11, at noon and 2:32 p.m.
- Quarterfinal Session No. 2 – Friday, March 11, at 6 p.m. and 8: p.m.;
- Semifinal Session – Saturday, March 12, at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.;
- Championship – Sunday, March 13, at 1 p.m.
One again this year, Hoops in the Heartland features Theme Games, Fan Hangouts and concession specials. Visit Quad Cities, TaxSlayer Center, and Missouri Valley Conference have worked together to create an atmosphere of fun for fans of all ages, the tourism bureau said.
Each MVC school has chosen a Fan Hangout in downtown Moline where their fans can meet before and after their games. Those locations include:
- Bradley – Pour Bros. Craft Taproom.
- Drake – River House, second floor.
- Evansville – Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse (banquet room).
- Illinois State – VIP’s Corner Bar & Grill.
- Indiana State – Bad Boyz Pizza & Pub.
- Loyola – River House Bar & Grill first floor.
- Missouri State – Bier Stube.
- Northern Iowa – Backwater Jacks inside Stoney Creek Hotel.
- Southern Illinois – Green Tree Brewery at the TaxSlayer Center.
- Valparaiso – Bent River Brewing Company.
Game themes include:
- March 10-13 – Wear Your Favorite Team Shirt: Children eighth grade and under can get half-price tickets at the door when they wear a team jersey, t-shirt, or sweatshirt to any game. The offer is good for any game and children must be accompanied by an adult.
- March 10 – Frothy Thursday: Courtesy of the TaxSlayer Center, concessions will sell $2 beers during the two games.
- March 11 – Bingo Games: The MVC presents its free Bingo Games during Friday’s games. Fans can play for a chance to win prizes such as MVC school branded t-shirts, sweatshirts, water bottles, stuffed animals, and more.
- March 12 – $1 Popcorn and Fan Fun Zone: During Saturday’s games, not only is $1 popcorn on the menu, but the Fan Fun Zone is open to the public and features games and activities, and an opportunity to take photos with the MVC Championship Trophy. Game times on Saturday are 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.
- March 13 – Championship Game & Fan Fun Zone: Don’t miss the excitement as the final two teams compete for the Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Championship. Stop at the Fan Fun Zone for activities before and during the game. Game time is 1 p.m.