Ivy League moving basketball tournaments from Palestra to Yale for next season

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Penn’s Darnell Foreman drives past Harvard’s Christian Juzang during the championship of this year’s Ivy League tournament at the Palestra.

After playing its first two conference basketball tournaments at the Palestra, the Ivy League is moving the men’s and women’s championships to Yale for the 2018-19 season. It is a one-year deal that the athletic directors voted on at their May meeting, said Trevor Rutledge-Leverenz, senior assistant executive director of the Ivy League.

The tournament will be on Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17. The men’s semifinals will be at  12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., while the women’s semifinals will be at 6 p.m and 30 minutes after the first game.

On Sunday, the men’s championship game will be at noon, with the women playing at 4. ESPN networks will broadcast all six games.

The tournament will suffer in attendance. Yale lists the capacity of its John L. Lee Amphitheater as 2,800, with 1,500 permanent seats and 1,300 in pull-out bleachers. The Palestra’s capacity is 8,722.

This season, the combined attendance for the four semifinal games was 5,219, Rutledge-Leverenz said. The combined attendance for the two title games was 5,564. Both were improvements over 2017, when the Saturday attendance was 5,025 and the Sunday attendance was 3,833.

Penn won this season’s men’s tournament, while Princeton was the women’s winner.

“We are pleased that the Ivy League basketball tournament will remain on a member institution’s campus and feature the same game format and television exposure as last year,” Penn athletic director Grace Calhoun said. “It was a privilege to hold the first two Ivy League tournaments at the Palestra, and we remain hopeful that the tournament will return to the cathedral of college basketball in a future year.”

Yale said in a statement: “The John J. Lee Amphitheater has a long history as a basketball venue, and we are thrilled that it will be the site of the 2019 Ivy League Tournaments. Penn did an outstanding job hosting the first two tournaments at the Palestra, and we will work diligently to provide an equally memorable experience to the student-athletes and fans of Ivy League basketball.”

Is hosting the Ivy League tournament at the home of Penn fair to all teams? Mike Jensen explored the idea earlier this year.