Big 10 hoops tournament would help, not save Sears Centre

Experts say sporting events are what make arenas successful, but that doesn’t necessarily mean luring the Big 10 Women’s Tournament to the Sears Centre will save the arena in Hoffman Estates.

For a weekend in March, having some of the best college basketball in the country would be a feather in the Sears Centre’s cap, as General Manager Ben Gibbs last week made a pitch to Big 10 officials to bring the tournament to Hoffman Estates.

But experts talk about arena’s needing an anchor team with a full docket of home games. That allows facilities to sell concessions and charge for parking, which is one reason why the Sears Centre will be home to the minor league Chicago Express hockey team that starts play in the fall.

Gibbs said the presentation to the Big 10 went well — even though he didn’t bring Gov. Patrick Quinn to help make his case. The group trying to land the tournament and other Big 10 events in Indianapolis brought its state’s Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Indianapolis has hosted the event for years, and it’s unclear whether the Big 10 is only using the Hoffman Estates and Chicago pitches as leverage in negotiations. Chicago wants to bring the men’s tournament to the United Center and the conference football championship game to Soldier Field.

But if Gibbs succeeds for a five-year deal starting in 2013 — an announcement could be made in June — it’s definitely a positive for Hoffman Estates.