Summit City could host USA basketball world cup qualifier

Coliseum staff tour USA Basketball reps around the arena.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne is on the short list to host a USA Basketball World Cup Qualifier next year. A group of people came to tour Memorial Coliseum Monday to see if it has the right stuff for the tournament.

USA Men’s Basketball National Team Director Sean Ford wants to see how the Coliseum stacks up. He and his crew are travelling to four or five NBA D-league cities to see which one is worthy of hosting a USA World Cup Qualifier in February 2018. He wouldn’t name the other cities they’re looking at.

Historically, each continental zone held independent tournaments and would send its winners to the World Cup. This go-around the continents will intermix play. There will be six qualifying tournaments across the globe starting in late 2017 for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. The Summit City wants in on the action.

“It would be a big deal in that this is such a new thing trying to explain to people this concept of qualifying for the World Cup over many tournaments over a 15 month period,” Ford explained. “We can’t get to the Olympic games without getting to the world cup and we can’t get to the world cup without playing these important games.”

Ford is looking for a venue that has proper modernization, seating, technology and variety of spaces.  He also needs a place fans and the community will flock to.

“When you bring something like this to a community what you need for it to be successful is for the community to take ownership in it and adopt it and kind of cultivate it into a major event in the community,” Ford said.

The Coliseum’s General Manager Randy Brown said the tourists were impressed with the arena’s full package opportunity.

“It appears we have everything here on site that’s necessary to present an exceptional basketball game,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. The experience for the players, but also to generate a crowd, the community coming out and we’re really excited about the prospect of hearing ‘USA, USA!’ here at the coliseum.”

The USA Basketball reps said they’ll make a decision on the venue for the February 2018 qualifier by the end of June.