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SEC makes Nashville primary site for men's tourney

Teresa m. Walker, AP Sports Writer

FILE -- In this March 13, 2010 file photo, a fan cheers as players are introduced before the start of an NCAA college basketball semifinal round game between Tennessee and Kentucky at the Southeastern Conference tournament in Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. The Southeastern Conference is expected to announce Tuesday Oct. 15, 2013, that the SEC will be holding 12 straight SEC basketball tournaments at the location with six new men's tournaments and three women's. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Southeastern Conference is making Nashville the primary home of its men's basketball tournament through 2026.

Commissioner Mike Slive announced Tuesday a deal with the Nashville Sports Council to hold nine men's tournaments in Music City in 2015-2017, 2019-2021 and 2023-2025. The deal also includes dates for three women's tournaments in 2018, 2022 and 2026.

"We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the city of Nashville," Slive said.

The commissioner said the league's athletic directors voted in May to pick a primary site for the men's basketball tournament. The Georgia Dome has hosted the league's football championship since 1994 and Hoover, Ala., has hosted the baseball tournament the past 16 years.

Bridgestone Arena, home of the NHL's Nashville Predators already has hosted the men's tournament in 2001, 2006, 2010 and 2013, along with five women's tournaments. The arena has a capacity of 18,160 for basketball and is located downtown, surrounded by restaurants and hotels with a new convention center that opened this summer across the street.

"This is a huge deal," Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said.