The Missouri Valley conference men's basketball tournament will remain in St. Louis through at least 2018.
St. Louis will host what's become known as "Arch Madness" for the 25th straight year in March. The Valley announced Wednesday that St. Louis has also been awarded the 2016-18 tournaments and that it has an option to extend its deal with the city through 2020.
"We have great tradition here. Long standing relationships that we've developed over time," MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin said. "I really think that when we looked at the totality of the bids, St. Louis was the clear winner from a financial standpoint."
Elgin said the Valley targeted St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Indianapolis and Las Vegas as prospective host cities before choosing to keep the tournament in St. Louis.
The league ultimately received bids from St. Louis's Scottrade Center, Kansas City's Sprint Center, which has hosted the Big 12 men's tournament, and the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
"We absolutely viewed the process as open, and I can tell you that we played no favorites," Elgin said. "We really did have three good choices, and I can honestly say this. There are not a lot of conferences that have the kind of choices, the good options we had available to us."
The Valley's stay in St. Louis is the second longest active streak for a neutral site tournament, trailing only the Big East's tenure in New York City. The tournament has drawn at least 50,000 fans in each of the past 12 seasons to St. Louis, whose central location makes it within a day's drive for most fans.
"It was a good opportunity for us to make the best and most prudent business decision for the league," Elgin said. "We learned a lot about the other markets and the commitment St. Louis has to our event."