INDIANAPOLIS -- For the first time since 1995, the NCAA is bringing its marquee event to the West Coast.
The Division I Men’s Basketball Committee announced Friday that Phoenix was among five cities selected from eight finalists to host the Final Four for the years 2017-2021. The Valley of the Sun will play host to the event at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, in 2017, becoming the first western city selected since Seattle staged the Final Four in 1995.
Other cities chosen by the committee to host in future years include San Antonio in 2018, Minneapolis in 2019 and Atlanta in 2020. The committee elected to award the 2021 Final Four to Indianapolis, which as the home of the NCAA headquarters has a unique long-term contractual relationship that guarantees the Men’s Final Four will be held regularly in the city.
The bid cycle originally was slated to cover the 2017-2020 Final Fours.
“This certainly was a very competitive process, so selecting Indianapolis to host the 2021 Final Four presented the committee an opportunity to select four other cities for the original span of the bid cycle,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA vice president of men’s basketball. “The agreement we have with the city of Indianapolis provides flexibility to the site selection process, so any reasonable option that benefited the event while maintaining the integrity of the bid process for the other finalist cities was considered. The Indianapolis local organizing committee was receptive of the idea and assured us that they would be prepared with guarantees from the venues and local hotels.”
Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium is hosting the 2015 Final Four, and 2021 will mark the eighth time the city has staged the event. That ranks second only to Kansas City, which hosted the Final Four 10 times from 1940-1988.
San Antonio, which hosted the event three times from 1998-2008, was selected to host in 2018. Renovations are planned for the Alamodome, which will become the sixth facility to host at least four Final Fours.
Two buildings currently under construction will host the 2019 and 2020 Final Fours.
Minneapolis most recently hosted the Final Four in 2001, and will stage the event for the fourth time in 2019 at the new Minnesota Multi-Purpose Stadium. This will be the city’s third venue to crown a national champion; Williams Arena hosted the national title game in 1951, while the Metrodome hosted the Final Four in 1992 and 2001.
The Final Four will return to Atlanta for the fifth time in 2020, when new Atlanta Stadium, which is currently under construction, becomes the third venue to host the event in the city. The Omni hosted the Final Four in 1977, while the Georgia Dome was the site in 2002, 2007 and 2013. Atlanta will be the seventh city to host at least five championship games.
The other finalists for this round of Final Fours were New Orleans, North Texas and St. Louis.
“Speaking for the entire committee, I can’t express enough gratitude to each of the representatives of the finalist cities. They invested so much time and resources over the past year to make sure that each prospective host put its best foot forward,” said Scott Barnes, vice president and athletics director at Utah State and chair of the Division I men’s basketball committee.
“Everything from the communication with the staff throughout the process, to the site visits that committee and staff members conducted in August and September, to the final in-person presentations held by each finalist’s representatives this week was truly exceptional. To say that we were thoroughly impressed with each city is a gross understatement.
“Ultimately we had to consider every aspect of each bid and go through a voting process no different than when this group meets in March to select teams for the NCAA tournament,” Barnes said. “We feel great about how those votes turned out and are confident this terrific event is in good hands for the foreseeable future. We are going to new buildings, cities that are universally loved for hosting great Final Fours and we are heading West for the first time in more than 20 years.”
Barnes noted that the national nature of the tournament is emphasized in the committee’s decisions.
“The fact we had sites selected from the West, South, North, East and Midwest, and have five sites in three different time zones, is reflected in the votes. The discussion during this meeting centered on growing the game of college basketball and, most importantly, creating a positive experience for student-athletes and fans. We think we’ve accomplished that, and we’re obviously very excited.”
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