ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Rockford will soon be hosting a major college basketball tournament for the first time. The women’s postseason NIT or WNIT will take place next month downtown.
The WNIT has been around since 1998. Women’s Division I teams that don’t qualify for the women’s NCAA Tournament compete in the WNIT.
Eight Division I teams will be coming to Rockford March 20-22 to battle it out and see who advances to the Final Four. The Rockford Regional games will be held at the UW-Health Sports Factory.
The Sports Factory has seven regular courts and one championship court, but in order to pull off this major event the larger Fred VanVleet basketball court at the BMO Harris Bank Center will be brought over to be played on.
“So they’re going to be putting it in our facility vertically, so we’re going to run north and south on our courts that exist here to make it happen,” explained Rockford Park District Operations Director Danielle Potter.
Usually WNIT games are played on the college campuses of the participating teams, but this year because of COVID-19 the WNIT wants to limit the event to four locations to insure that the event can be pulled off safetly. Triple Crown Sports of Fort Collins, Colorado produces the WNIT event.
Sarah Molina of Triple Crown Sports who is also the WNIT’s assistant director was in Rockford Thursday for the announcement. “With what we are looking for it was convenience and then flexibility and then professionalism,” said Molina. “So the convenience as far as traveling in it had to make sense geographically for the teams that we’re going to pull, and or if there were even a flight that had to be convenient to get in and out of town.”
Molina says the expectation is to allow some spectators to attend the games.
“For Rockford specifically we look forward to having a limited fan base.”
In addition to Rockford the other cities that will host WNIT Regionals will be Fort Worth, Texas, Charlotte, North Carolina and Memphis, Tennessee. One of those cities will eventually be chosen to also host the Final Four, so Rockford will be in the mix for that as well.
The field of teams that will compete in the WNIT won’t be announced until March 15 right after all the brackets are announced for the Women’s NCAA Tournament.