How the NCAA decides where tournament games are played

INDIANAPOLIS (MEDIA GENERAL) – Money. Money. Money. Brackets are being built, teams are preparing, and analysts are analyzing. The NCAA tournament begins Tuesday, March 17 with the play-in games. And, some of the biggest winners are the tournament host cities. It costs money to lure the NCAA, but it brings in big money as well.

So, how do cities like Dayton, and Columbus, Ohio, Portland, Oregon and Indianapolis end up hosting big games? And, why do others lose out? We went to the NCAA to find out and David Worlock, Dir. of Media Coordination and Statistics, gave us the breakdown.

Competition Venue

The bottom line here is the NCAA requires that where the games are played must be big enough. The venue has to seat at least 10,000 people to host early rounds of the tourney and 60,000 to host the Final Four.

Getting and Staying There

The NCAA has hotel and airport requirements as well. A city must have 10,000 hotel rooms to host the Men’s Final Four. The NCAA also considers the cost of rooms, blocks of rooms, and how near the hotels are to the venue where the games are played. The NCAA states that preference is given to cities that can host the teams in “properties of superior quality with competitive rates.” They also like to keep the teams playing each other separate.

As for air travel, you have to be able to get flights in and out. The NCAA says preference is given to cities with more daily arrivals and departures.

Hosting Frequency

The NCAA tries to make sure a city that is hosting a Final Four has a dry run the year before hosting an earlier round. Indianapolis is hosting the Final Four this year. Last year, they hosted a regional round. This year, Houston is hosting a regional round and they’ll be next year’s Final Four host.

Of course, that’s not always the case. The NCAA does consider if a city has not hosted in a long time. Seattle is a good example. They’re hosting this coming weekend and haven’t hosted since 2004.

New Buildings

The NCAA likes to see a city invest in its buildings. Kansas City has hosted more tournament games than any other city. However, they went for some time without hosting until a new building went up. Now, the NCAA has been there twice in recent years.

Some of the other factors the NCAA considers:

  • Community interest in the tournament
  • Attendance numbers, revenue generated from previous games
  • Conference, geographic representation – the NCAA likes to spread it around

The NCAA plans well in advance. We already know which cities will host the Final Four through 2021 and the earlier rounds until 2018.

So, is the money spent on buildings, hotels, the bidding process and more all worth it for the host cities? The cities involved would tell you, yes! The play-in games in Dayton bring in $4.5 million to the area’s economy, according to the Dayton Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Visit Indy tourism group is expecting the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four to generate more than $70 million dollars for the local economy.

 

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