Written by Erren Harter
There is a petition going around asking the Emporia City Commission to get involved in the issue of the availability of White Auditorium for Emporia State’s basketball teams should they have the opportunity to host their Regional Tournament.
The problem as many know is these NCAA Regionals always fall on the same week as the state high school basketball tournaments and Emporia has hosted a state high school tournament for as long as we can remember.
Over a decade ago there was an attempt to host both at White, but a broken leg and some very late game times messed that idea up.
On at least 3 occasions since then our Lady Hornets were in position to host, but denied that opportunity because the gym was not available.
A recent attempt to utilize Emporia high school's gym didn’t fly either.
The group carrying the Petition is on the right track in my opinion by asking the City of Emporia to get involved.
The best possibility for reaching a compromise will be if the City and the Kansas State Activities Association can reach an agreement.
Ft. Hays worked a deal with the Activities Association a few years ago when they had the opportunity to host a NCAA Regional. The high school tournament was moved to another city at the last minute, but then returned to Hays the next year. We understand Hays thinks they can do this again if necessary. Emporia need that same deal!
The difference being Ft. Hays owns their facility, Gross Coliseum. ESU rents White Auditorium so Emporia City needs to speak.
Petition organizer Gary Ace tells me his group does not want to see White “dark” meaning they aren't seeking “an all or nothing” deal.
Emporia through its’ city officials needs to request from the Activities Association an agreement similar to Hays' where under certain circumstances the high school state tournament could be moved for that year.
Emporia has the reputations for being one of the best hosts for state basketball tournaments, combining that with Emporia's obligation to assist our university in this matter the Kansas High School Activities Association should be reasonable.
Such an arrangement would be fragile. Timing would be tight. Regional hosts are often not decided until Sunday night with both tournaments starting on Wednesday or Thursday.
We could see the decision to move the high school event made a week or two early only to see the Regional go elsewhere. That could result in "no tournament" in Emporia. That’s a chance we might have to be prepared to live with.
You bet. If it wasn’t it would have been resolved a long time ago.
What I do believe is getting Emporia city officials to take a stand might give a compromise a chance it hasn’t had for some time. It's worth a try!
And, yes I signed the petition.
I'm Steve Sauder.