The girls basketball finals are leaving Michigan State University and the Breslin Center for the next two seasons. The 2018 and 2019 finals will be played on the campus of Calvin College.

The girls basketball finals are leaving Michigan State University and the Breslin Center for the next two seasons. The 2018 and 2019 finals will be played on the campus of Calvin College.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Girls basketball finals headed to Calvin College for 2018 and 2019

By: Mike Moore | C&G Newspapers | Published January 4, 2018

The setting is about to be a more intimate one, with a more vocal crowd and a more raucous atmosphere hopefully in the cards.

With 2018 officially off and running, it’s only about nine short weeks until the Michigan High School Athletic Association will crown four state champions in girls basketball.

While the tradition of mid-March classics is nothing new, the venue this winter will be.

“The Breslin Center wasn’t available to us on this year’s semifinal and finals dates, so that’s the reason we had to make a change,” said John Johnson, the communications director of the MHSAA. “We had to search for an alternate venue, and we’re very pleased with what we were able to work out.”

The semifinals and finals are scheduled for March 15-17, dates the Breslin Center had to be reserved for the possibility of Michigan State University’s women’s basketball team hosting an NCAA tournament game.

For 2018 and 2019, the MHSAA will take the girls final weekend to Van Noord Arena, a 5,000-seat complex located in Grand Rapids on the campus of Calvin College.

“It’s the largest Division 3 arena in the country and an arena that has great experience hosting big events,” Johnson said. 

Calvin College served as the host of the women’s basketball NCAA D-III national championship in 2015 and 2017, and also hosted the women’s volleyball national championships in 2017.

The MHSAA has never taken a finals weekend to Van Noord Arena, which hosted its first athletic events in 2009.

“The main thing we hope from this move is to restore some of that band-box atmosphere,” Johnson said. “The years we had the finals at Central Michigan was like that. While the Breslin is a wonderful building and the priority is to play there if possible, having a building that will look, sound and feel like the place is jumping all the time is something you can’t discount. It makes for a great, great experience.”

Van Noord Arena has 5,000 seats available for athletic events. 

With the upper bowl curtained off, the Breslin Center can seat roughly 7,000 for girls finals, but has never come close to capacity.

“Things will be nice and tight here,” Johnson added. “The amenities are very modern. We will have everything going on behind the scenes to take care of business. … We also know how west Michigan supports high school sports, and we expect a great couple of days.”

The lone drawback, Johnson noted, is the longer trip most schools will likely have to make going to Grand Rapids as opposed to East Lansing.

“It’s just part of the hand we’ve been dealt,” he said. “There are only so many buildings available.”

The girls will return to Calvin College in 2019, as well, coinciding with a flip with the boys season.

Next year the boys basketball season will start first, followed by the girls a few weeks later to allow the boys finals to remain at the Breslin Center in the second week of March 2019.