SAINT LEO, Fla. - The Sunshine State Conference, in partnership with the Central Florida Sports Commission and Kissimmee Convention & Visitors Bureau, has announced that the 2013 Sunshine State Conference Basketball Championship will be held at the Silver Spurs Arena in Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla. The event will be held March 6-10, 2013.
All nine SSC member institutions' men's and women's basketball teams will compete in the SSC Championship. Opening-round games will be conducted Wednesday, March 6. The quarterfinals will be held on Thursday, March 7, and Friday, March 8. Both the men's and women's semifinals will be played Saturday, March 9. Semifinal winners will advance to the championship finals on Sunday, March 10.
The 2013 tournament will mark the first time since 2007 that all 18 SSC men's and women's basketball teams will compete in the tournament. The event will be hosted at a neutral facility for the first time since 2001. The SSC Basketball Championship was hosted at The Lakeland Center from 1995-2001 and had been conducted at campus sites since that time.
"We are thrilled to partner with the Central Florida Sports Commission and Kissimmee Convention & Visitors Bureau to bring our basketball tournament to a neutral site and have all nine men's and all nine women's teams participate," SSC Commissioner Jay Jones said. "The event will be a fun weekend for basketball fans and, hopefully, will become an annual tradition for fans around the state. It will provide a great tip-off to the excitement of college basketball in March."
"The Central Florida Sports Commission has partnered with the Sunshine State Conference, not only on previous conference championships, but also at the national level with the NCAA," John Bisignano, President and CEO for the Central Florida Sports Commission, said. "We are honored to co-host the men's and women's basketball championship in Kissimmee, and we look forward to continually building on this relationship."
The Silver Spurs Arena features a maximum basketball seating capacity of 8,000 and boasts chair back seating throughout the facility. The arena is part of the 120-acre Osceola Heritage Park Complex, which also contains a 60,000-square foot exhibition center and Osceola County Stadium - spring training home of the Houston Astros - as part of the complex. Osceola Heritage Park has served as host to numerous events since it opened in 2003, including concerts, trade shows, rodeos, family shows, and numerous sporting events.
"We are very excited to host these prestigious collegiate basketball championships," said Don Miers, Sports Development Director for the Kissimmee CVB, which serves as Osceola County's tourism marketing department. "We sincerely hope the players and coaches enjoy success and fall in love with our Osceola County Heritage Park so that it becomes home to their tournament for years to come!"
The SSC Basketball Championship will provide an estimated economic impact of more than $110,000 for the Kissimmee area in participants alone. Fan attendance and interaction throughout the community during the week of the event will further boost the local economy.
Located in Winter Park, the Sunshine State Conference is the only NCAA conference headquartered in the state of Florida. Its nine member institutions, all located within the state, are: Barry University (Miami Shores), Eckerd College (St. Petersburg), Florida Southern College (Lakeland), Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne), Lynn University (Boca Raton), Nova Southeastern University (Ft. Lauderdale), Rollins College (Winter Park), Saint Leo University (Saint Leo), and the University of Tampa.
The SSC sponsors 16 intercollegiate sports that compete in NCAA Division II. More than 2,000 student-athletes participate in men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's swimming, men's and women's golf, men's and women's tennis, baseball, softball, and women's rowing.
SSC schools have won 78 NCAA Division II national championships, and the league is the top-rated academic conference in Division II.