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Horizon League Tournament going neutral?

Multiple sources under the condition of anonymity have indicated to PantherU.com that the Horizon League is considering a move for its conference tournament to the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan for the 2015-16 season.

Those sources could not confirm whether or not the move was finalized, or if the dotted line has been signed by the Joe Louis Arena or the Horizon League. Reason stands to say the move is not final or else the Horizon League office would have announced the move.

The deal with the Joe involves $200,000 per year for the Horizon League, with $20,000 per school. That will cover a portion of travel costs. The deal is said to be over five years.

One of the sources indicated that the schools have voted 7-2 in favor of the move, with UIC and Valparaiso the only votes against the move. Another source was not familiar with any vote.

The move will be new to most fans of the Horizon League, as it has played since 2004 at the #1 seed’s campus site with the title game being at the highest remaining seed. Before that, the Horizon League (also known as the Midwestern Collegiate Conference before 2001) used a round robin host, the last of which was Milwaukee in 2003.

Following that season, the conference switched to its current format, giving the top two seeds a double-bye and the top seed a home court advantage throughout their time in the tournament. A few conferences have similar moves, but at the time it was a revolution, a stroke of genius from commissioner Jon LeCrone.

The format protected the top seeds of the conference tournament in a big way, stacking the deck to make sure the best teams in the conference got the easiest chance to get to the tournament. It led to a Sweet 16 from Milwaukee in 2005 and a Final Four from Butler in 2010 – two runs that may not have happened had the tournament format been more evenhanded and those teams lost in the conference tourney.

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