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Horizon brings tournament to Detroit

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings
The first-ever event held at Joe Louis Arena was a college basketball game on Dec. 12, 1979. Here University of Detroit sophomore forward Joe Kopicki (35) scores the first points of the game against Michigan. However, the Wolverines defeated UD, 85-72. (Photo from University of Detroit Mercy archives)

INDIANAPOLIS – The Horizon League Executive Council approved an agreement in principle with Olympia Entertainment to host the Horizon League men’s basketball tournament in the city of Detroit.

Under terms of the five-year agreement, Olympia Entertainment will host the men’s basketball tournament beginning in 2016.

“The addition of the Horizon League men’s basketball championship is a perfect compliment to our wide range of existing sports and entertainment events at our downtown Detroit venues,” said Tom Wilson, President of Olympia Entertainment. “We look forward to providing an outstanding and memorable tournament experience for the schools, their fans and all participating student athletes.”

The first two years of the tournament will be contested at venerable Joe Louis Arena, home to the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings, before moving to the state-of-the-art Detroit Events Center, currently under construction in downtown Detroit.

“The partnership with Olympia Entertainment is a unique and exciting opportunity,” Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone said. “We want to provide a great tournament experience for all of our key constituents -- student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans -- and we are excited to work with Olympia and our institutions on that goal.”

Among the planned tournament enhancements will be a celebratory event for the participating teams, increased fan participation experiences and multi-event ticketing packages. A multiple-layer branding and marketing effort will also be a feature of the agreement. Additionally, the Horizon League will have an increased presence in Detroit via future League meetings and media events.

The 2016 Horizon League men’s basketball championship game will keep its current Tuesday, March 8, slot on ESPN or ESPN2 at 7 p.m. EST. Additional game dates, times, network information, and tournament format will be announced at a later date.

About Olympia Entertainment: Olympia Entertainment, a Detroit-based company owned by entrepreneurs Michael and Marian Ilitch, is one of the country’s most diverse sport and entertainment companies and the largest organization of its kind in the mid-west. The company owns and operates Detroit’s Fox Theatre, the intimate City Theatre and also books and operates Joe Louis Arena and books Comerica Park. Olympia Entertainment also handles business operations for the Detroit Red Wings, an Original Six member of the National Hockey League and collaborates with the Detroit Tigers baseball franchise and other Ilitch companies.

Other Ilitch companies include: Little Caesars Pizza, Ilitch Holdings, Inc., Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, Champion Foods, the Detroit Red Wings, Little Caesar Pizza Kits Fundraising Program, Olympia Development and Uptown Entertainment. Additionally, Michael Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers, Inc., and Marian Ilitch owns MotorCity Casino Hotel.

To learn more about Olympia Entertainment, visit Also follow Olympia on Twitter @OEontheGo and at

About the Horizon League: Comprised of nine public and private institutions of higher learning, the Horizon League is an NCAA Division I athletics conference that sponsors 19 intercollegiate championship sports and is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. The league and its member institutions aspire to teach young people, through athletic competition, the value of learning, service to others

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