|Georgia Tech arena goes back to its roots hosting SEC championship game|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 15 March 2008 13:10|
But the 9,191-seat arena has plenty of history with the SEC.
Georgia Tech was once a member of the conference, dropping out after the 1963-64 season. The Yellow Jackets spent time as an independent and as a member of the Metro Conference before joining their current league, the Atlantic Coast Conference. They played their first eight seasons at Alexander as an SEC school, finishing second three times.
The SEC switched the final two days of its tournament to the 52-year-old campus arena after the nearby Georgia Dome sustained major damage from a tornado that struck Friday night during a quarterfinal game between Mississippi State and Alabama.
In another interesting twist, Georgia Tech's most bitter rival, Georgia, was among the teams still alive when the tournament shifted to the cozy, circular arena known as the ``Thrillerdome.''
The Bulldogs upset Kentucky 60-56 in the quarterfinals Saturday, and advanced to play in the evening semifinals against Mississippi State.
``I don't get caught up in that story line stuff,'' Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. ``It just is what it is. I think the bigger story is that we've had to adjust because of the storm and the damage it did to the Georgia Dome. I am grateful to Georgia Tech that we were able to use their facility and move on with the tournament.''
Georgia Tech's arena, only about 2 miles from the Georgia Dome, was the most logical replacement when two other major facilities in the area weren't available.
Philips Arena, part of the same complex that includes the dome, was booked to host Winter Jam 2008. The concert was canceled because of cleanup efforts around the 20,000-seat facility, though officials said the arena sustained no structural damage.
A 12,700-seat arena in suburban Gwinnett County was hosting a Georgia Force arena football game.
So, the tournament was being played on a court that has a huge Georgia Tech logo in the center, with ``ACC'' written across both foul lanes.
SEC officials did add some of their own touches, such as hanging banners for all 12 of their member schools behind one basket.