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CAA men’s basketball tournament moving to Baltimore in 2014

RICHMOND, Va. — The Colonial Athletic Association is taking its men’s basketball tournament to Baltimore.

The tournament will be held at 1st Mariner Arena for three years beginning next season, Commissioner Tom Yeager said on a conference call Wednesday.

The announcement was made in Baltimore, which was chosen over the other finalist, Richmond. Virginia’s capital city has hosted the tournament since 1990, but league presidents decided to move to a more centralized location with heavy input from their athletic directors, Yeager said.

Seven of the league’s 10 teams are within 250 miles of Baltimore, and the city provides “a bigger stage with brighter lights,” Yeager said.

Towson is the league’s only school in Maryland, and Yeager said attendance projections for the tournament are “part of the big unknown, to be completely honest with you, the same as this year in Richmond is going to be somewhat of an unknown. We’re a new group, a new group of institutions.”

The CAA has its headquarters in Richmond and once had Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth as members. The Spiders left for the Atlantic 10 a decade ago and VCU followed suit after last season. Another Virginia school, Old Dominion, announced it is moving to Conference-USA after this year.

The CAA has just three Virginia schools left — George Mason, James Madison and William & Mary — and a footprint that now stretches down the east coast from its northernmost member, Northeastern in Boston, to its newest and southernmost member, the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

“We’re a different league than we were 12 months ago,” Yeager said. “There’s no denying the impact that VCU and ODU had on the tournament.”

The CAA tournament has drawn at least 42,000 fans to Richmond Coliseum for the tournament for each of the past five years, the league said.

Additional expansion of the CAA also remains a possibility, the commissioner said.

“Absolutely, if the right institutions are available,” Yeager said, although he declined to say if the league had any invitations outstanding.

“Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of activity going on right now,” he said.