Thank You Richmond
This weekend, the Colonial Athletic Association will be staging its 24th consecutive men's basketball championship at the Richmond Coliseum before moving to Baltimore for the 2014-16 tournaments. Through the years, over 750,000 spectators have watched the electricity of 207 "March Madness" tournament games with millions more watching the national television broadcasts showcasing Richmond. Some of the most memorable games in NCAA tournament history got their start at the CAA tournament. Richmond's historic upset of #2 Syracuse in 1991; Old Dominion's 3 overtime victory over #3 Villanova in 1995; VCU's victory over Duke in 2007; and the most memorable of all, the captivating performances of our 2006 George Mason and 2011 VCU Final Four teams!
The CAA has always believed that the tournament should be a valuable motivational opportunity for the youth in Richmond. The conference has had annual "good behavior" partnerships with the public schools in Metro Richmond, the Richmond Parks and Recreation programs, Police Athletic League, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Special Olympics, Boy and Girl Scouts and many other youth organizations. One of my personal favorites occurred in 1992 when kids from the City's Parks & Rec programs had a special, private breakfast with basketball legend Julius "Dr. J" Erving. In the past 24 years, thousands of kids have received free tickets to the Championship for achieving Honor Roll status, participating in reading programs or achieving perfect attendance at their school. Our coaches have conducted clinics where all these things were stressed in order to follow the dream of playing college basketball and beyond. We hope that in some small way, the tournament made a positive difference for area youth.
Our success wouldn't have been possible without the tremendous support from numerous tournament sponsors, the City of Richmond and countless volunteers. I would like to particularly thank Jim and Bobby Ukrop from Ukrop's and First Market Bank and our original long-time title sponsor, Richfood whose support beginning in 1990 provided the foundation that allowed the tournament to prosper through all the years. The City of Richmond, the SMG staff (operators of the Richmond Coliseum), the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Richmond SportsBackers have all been tremendous partners and advocates for the CAA throughout, investing time, effort and resources that is impossible to calculate and quantify.
A flood of "March Madness" emotion and memories will be on display for a final time on Monday night at the Coliseum as the championship team once again climbs the ladder to "cut down the nets" realizing their dream of playing in the NCAA tournament as the CAA Champion. Richmond has witnessed and shared in that dream for a whole generation of young men. I hope that you will join us in the celebration again this year.
I'd like to thank each and every one who has been part of facilitating that dream through your support and attendance. Thank you Richmond!
Colonial Athletic Association