DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – For the 17th straight year the NCAA Tournament is ready to tip off right here in Dayton.
As most people here know, but perhaps not our out of town visitors, UD Arena has hosted more NCAA Tournament games than any other venue.
2 NEWS Anchor Mark Allan found, likely the only man alive, who has witnessed every one of those games.
As UD Arena prepares to host still more NCAA tournament games, that preparation reveals an annual glimpse of its storied past. As the court used for Flyer games is replaced by the one for the First Four, we get a rare look at the original UD Arena floor. A reminder that new memories are built on top of old ones.
“Boy a lot of memories mark 48 years I spent here at the arena. The NCAA has become a tradition for us in the building,” former UD Arena Manager Gary McCans said.
When it comes to UD Arena’s NCAA Tournament history, Gary McCans has a unique perspective. The former event services manager has been there for every one of the record 113 postseason games, dating all the way back to this first one in 1970.
“They just threw it to you, here you go you got the tournament. We printed the tickets, we sold the tickets, we marketed everything. It was all up to us and again, through the years, the NCAA has assisted and become more involved and it’s turned into the great event it is now,” said McCans.
Over the past 48 years, McCans estimates he’s also witnessed almost a thousand UD games, as well as the passion they generate, from a loyal and knowledgeable fan base.
“We’re very fortunate to have great support, great basketball fans that know the game of basketball and enjoy it. They don’t care who’s playing,” McCans said.
The First Four will be back next year, but to keep it beyond that, Dayton will have to fight off a growing list of rival cities trying to steal it away. But McCans thinks only Dayton has the unique intangibles to make us the First Four’s final stop.
“I really feel that there’s no other place in the country that could do what the staff does here at the arena. Finding out this evening that there’s going to be eight teams coming in here in two days and what this city gets done is amazing,” McCans explains. “I really believe it would be difficult for somebody to step in and get that done to the extent that the city of Dayton does.”
Something else in our favor is our location. 60-percent of Division 1 schools are within 600 miles of Dayton.