SEC tournament moved from Georgia Dome
After conferring with Atlanta and Georgia Dome officials, the SEC has decided to move the remainder of its men's basketball tournament to Georgia Tech after the Georgia Dome sustained damage due to a possible tornado that tore through downtown Atlanta Friday night.
The Georgia-Kentucky quarterfinal game, which was postponed Friday after the storm struck, will be played at noon today. The winner of that game will have to play Mississippi State tonight in the semifinals.
The other semifinal between No. 4 Tennessee and Arkansas will be played at 6 p.m.
Because Alexander Memorial Coliseum is smaller than the Georgia Dome — 9,100 seats compared to 26,000 in the dome’s basketball configuration — only players’ families and those with working credentials will be allowed to attend the remaining games.
The championship will be held Sunday at 3 p.m.
The decision will be extremely disappointing news, particularly for Tennesseee fans who traveled en masse this year because the Vols are favored to win it all. Tennessee hasn't made it to the semifinals in quite some time. Kentucky fans are also in Atlanta in huge numbers.
The SEC was under pressure to get all three games played on Saturday because the championship game falls on Selection Sunday and is televised by CBS.
At a 1:15 a.m. press conference, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin said rescue and construction crews would work through the night to determine if structures were stable enough to allow people back in, inlcuding some apartments in which the floors collapsed under pressure from the storm.
"We are a tourist-friendly city and we love having them here for the basketball tournament and other events . . . but our primary goal right now is to ensure the safety of life and safety of property,'' she said.
Two cloth panels in the upper deck of the Georgia Dome's fabric roof were torn open, and on the outside large chunks of insulation and metal were blown off the building. Other buildings in the area, including the Georgia World Congress Center, the CNN headquarters building and the Omni Hotel all sustained damage.