BOSTON (SHNS) – A state rep from western Massachusetts is calling on former Gov. Charlie Baker to exercise his power as NCAA president and bring the organization’s Tip-Off Classic back to Springfield.
In a letter to Baker, Rep. Anthony Puppolo Jr. said “the sport of basketball is near and dear to my heart.” “Basketball has been a part of the city since it was invented by Springfield College instructor and graduate student James Naismith in 1891 and has grown to a worldwide fan favorite through the years,” Puppolo wrote to Baker. “On the heels of a very successful Final Four Tournament, and given your commitment and dedication to Springfield and western Massachusetts as Governor of the Commonwealth, I am respectfully requesting that you now return the NCAA Tip-Off Classic to the City of Springfield, the city where basketball was born.”
The Tip-Off Classic was held in Springfield from 1979 to 2005, he wrote, and returning it to the city would “provide a tremendous economic engine” for local restaurants, hotels and the Basketball Hall of Fame. Puppolo also said he was mindful of concerns that are never far away in pro and college sports: money.
“I understand that a 2005 NCAA rules change made it harder to schedule teams, and, of course, revenue has become a driver; but now is the time to revisit the rules and larger picture to allow for the official start of the season to take place once again in Springfield,” he wrote. “I strongly believe that one game starting the season would not significantly hurt the NCAA in any way; the stakes are high, but the choice is yours. I appreciate your help to make this happen.”