Increased utilization of Garrett by hosting high school basketball tourneys

The new scoreboard at Garrett will be used in the upcoming tournaments 

Officials are gearing up for what will be a historic week for high school basketball in the Capital City as three postseason tournaments will take place simultaneously in three different arenas. While it’s not unusual to see Alabama State’s Dunn-Oliver Acadome and the Multiplex at Cramton Bowl operating events at the same time, the city will add a new tournament when Garrett Coliseum holds the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Southeast Regional in two weeks. “It’s huge,” said Randy Stephenson, manager of the Alabama National Fair, whose group oversees the coliseum’s operation. “It’s just another piece of the pie that was missing that makes (the coliseum) viable. The wrestling tournament last year was a huge success from that standpoint.”

For the second consecutive year, Garrett Coliseum also will be the site on Feb. 8-9 of the Alabama High School Athletic Association South Super Section wrestling tournament. The super sectional format started in 2014 and the South event spent the first four years at the Multiplex before moving to Garrett last year.

As soon as the wrestling tournament concludes, the focus will turn to basketball. City workers will begin installing the basketball court at Garrett Coliseum for the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Southeast Regional, which will join the Southwest Regional at Dunn-Oliver Acadome and the Alabama Independent School Association’s state tournament at the Multiplex in a week of basketball that will put 160 boys and girls high school basketball teams in the Capital City.

The Alabama Independent School Association has a new postseason format this season, with the regular-season area champion advancing to the state quarterfinals at the Multiplex, while the area runner-up plays a third-place finisher from another area at home on Feb. 5 and 7.

The quarterfinals will be held Feb. 11-13, depending on classification, with each group getting a day off before resuming play in the semifinals and finals at the Multiplex.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association will be holding a regional at Alabama State for the 13th consecutive year, but the decision to move another regional to the Capital City from Dothan will turn a spotlight on what was billed as the nation’s largest indoor arena when Garrett Coliseum was dedicated in October, 1953. It was the site of some of the state’s biggest games over the next dozen or so years as both Alabama and Auburn played annual basketball games in the arena as well as the Blue-Gray basketball tournament.

Stephenson would like to use the Southeast Regional to generate more use of the facility in the future. And while the event will draw in patrons from various parts of the state, he is more interested in the local traffic the event will generate.

“It’s important for the local folks,” he said, “because they’re the ones who are going to support it and other events that go on here. We’re hoping it opens the door …about the basketball end of it. We play all the intracity football games at Cramton Bowl. We’d love to look at the intracity basketball games over here.”

The eight areas that make up the South half of the state are divided between the Southeast Regional at Garrett and the Southwest Regional at ASU, depending on classification.

Provided a team wins its sub-regional contest, the Southeast Regional potentially will draw participation from Lee, Jeff Davis and Prattville in 7A; Carver, Lanier, Park Crossing, Opelika and Benjamin Russell in 6A; Brew Tech, Tallassee, Ramsay and Briarwood Christian in 5A; Elmore County, Holtville, Alabama Christian, LAMP, Catholic and Trinity in 4A; Pike Road, St. James and Montgomery Academy in 3A; Reeltown in 2A; and Brantley, Elba, Loachapoka and Notasulga in 1A.

The Southwest Regional potentially will draw participation from the Mobile area in 7A; Selma, Stanhope Elmore and Wetumpka in 6A; the Mobile and Chilton County areas as well as Marbury in 5A; Hillcrest-Evergreen, Andalusia and the Tuscaloosa area in 4A; the Mobile area, Prattville Christian, Gordo and Hale County in 3A; Aliceville, R.C. Hatch, Calhoun, Central-Hayneville, Highland Home and Luverne in 2A; and Sweet Water, Billingsley, Autaugaville, Isabella and Maplesville in 1A.

At Garrett, the regional will mark the first high school event since the AHSAA state indoor track meet concluded its annual run in the facility on Feb. 1, 1992 and the biggest revenue producer from a traditional (non-rodeo) sports event since the Southeastern Conference held its final indoor track meet in the arena in February, 1979.

AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese has expressed his confidence in the facility since the announcement was made to move the event from Dothan. Workers were busy last week installing a new scoreboard in the center of the arena to complement the scoreboards donated by Buffalo Rock in 2016.

“(Savarese) wanted bigger scoreboards,” Stephenson said, “so we came up with the idea of why not just have one in the middle. Buffalo Rock bought into it. We’ve spruced up locker rooms to make sure we had four good locker rooms. The Hank (Williams dressing) Room will become the media room (for postgame interviews).”

Kiwanis Club volunteers will handle the work inside the arena. The coliseum generates all of its annual revenue from rental fees for the facility, a portion of the concession stand and all of the revenue generated from the $5 parking fee. While it is imperative the organizers put forth their best effort to make the 66-year-old facility comfortable, Stephenson points out his staff simply views the Southeast Regional as another event.

“We do events all the time,” he said. “We’ve got a great staff. For us, it’s another event. There are some nuances to it. We’re excited about it.”

POST SEASON BASKETBALL IN THE CAPITAL CITY

Thursday, Feb. 7

AISA boys regional games at school sites

First-round AHSAA boys area tournament games at school sites

Friday, Feb. 8

AHSAA girls area tournament championship games at school sites

AHSAA South Super Section wrestling tournament, Garrett Coliseum

Saturday, Feb. 9

AHSAA boys area tournament championship games at school sites

AHSAA South Super Section wrestling tournament, Garrett Coliseum

Monday, Feb. 11

AISA Elite Eight, Class A boys and girls, Multiplex

AHSAA girls sub-regional games at school sites

Tuesday, Feb. 12

AISA Elite Eight, Class AA boys and girls, Multiplex

AHSAA boys sub-regional games at school sites

Wednesday, Feb. 13

AISA Elite Eight, Class AAA boys and girls, Multiplex

Thursday, Feb. 14

AISA Final Four, Class A-AA boys and girls, Multiplex

AHSAA Class 7A and 1A girls and boys Southwest Regional games, Dunn-Oliver Acadome

AHSAA Class 7A and 1A girls and boys Southeast Regional games, Garrett Coliseum

Friday, Feb. 15

AISA Class AA boys and girls finals, Multiplex

AISA Final Four, Class AAA boys and girls, Multiplex

AHSAA Class 6A and 2A girls and boys Southwest Regional games, Dunn-Oliver Acadome

AHSAA Class 6A and 2A girls and boys Southeast Regional games, Garrett Coliseum

Saturday. Feb. 16

AISA Class A and Class AAA boys and girls finals, Multiplex

AHSAA Class 5A and 3A girls and boys Southeast Regional games, Garrett Coliseum

Monday, Feb. 18

AHSAA Class 5A and 3A girls and boys Southwest Regional games, Dunn-Oliver Acadome

AHSAA Class 4A girls and boys Southeast Regional games, Garrett Coliseum

AHSAA Class 1A girls and boys Southeast Regional finals, Garrett Coliseum

Tuesday, Feb. 19

AHSAA Class 4A girls and boys Southwest Regional games, Dunn-Oliver Acadome

AHSAA Class 1A and 2A girls and boys Southwest Regional finals, Dunn-Oliver Acadome

AHSAA Class 7A, 6A and 2A girls and boys Southeast Regional finals, Garrett Coliseum

Wednesday, Feb. 20

AHSAA Class 7A, 6A and 3A girls and boys Southwest Regional finals, Dunn-Oliver Acadome

AHSAA Class 5A, 3A and 4A girls and boys Southeast Regional finals, Garrett Coliseum

Thursday, Feb. 21

AHSAA Class 5A and 4A girls and boys Southwest Regional finals, Dunn-Oliver Acadome

Sports Editor