The NCAA has awarded Final Four, regional and early round sites for the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments as far as the 2020–2021 season, with new stadiums being granted the right to host the men’s championship and two first-time cities awarded the women’s event.
For the men, the NCAA has awarded the Final Four to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, in 2017; The Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, in 2018; the new Minnesota Vikings stadium under construction in Minneapolis in 2019; and the new Atlanta Falcons stadium under construction in Atlanta in 2020. The NCAA had initially intended to award events through 2020, but opted to grant Indianapolis the men’s Final Four in 2021 since the city had bid as well, and has a long-term hosting agreement with the NCAA, which is headquartered in the city.
“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.”
The other finalists for men’s Final Fours were New Orleans, North Texas and St. Louis.
Meanwhile, upcoming Women’s Final Fours will be staged at American Airlines Center in Dallas (2017); Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio (2018); Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida (2019); and Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. For Dallas and Columbus, it will mark the first time the cities have hosted the Women’s Final Four. Tampa, which will host this season’s championship, will host for the third time in 2019, and New Orleans will host for the fourth time when the event comes in 2020.
“The past 15 months of the selection process resulted in four deserving cities being chosen to host the marquee event of our sport, the Women’s Final Four,” said Dru Hancock, chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and senior associate commissioner at the Big 12 Conference. “We appreciate all of the cities and local organizing committees that participated in the process. Dallas, Columbus, Tampa Bay and New Orleans each demonstrated that they will continue to raise the bar on the event while enhancing the experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans. We look forward to our work together as we continue to build this important event.”
The 2016–2017 season that culminates with the Women’s Final Four in Dallas will mark the first year since 2003 that the event will be played on Friday/Sunday instead of Sunday/Tuesday. That will align the championship with the preliminary rounds, which will be played Friday/Sunday and Saturday/Monday starting in 2015.
In addition to the Final Four sites, the NCAA announced regional and early round sites for the men’s tournament from 2016–2018. Among the highlights of the cities chosen, Des Moines, Iowa, and Brooklyn, New York, will host the event for the first time in 2016. Dayton, Ohio, was also granted the right to host the First Four that starts the tournament through 2018. In another move, the Men’s Basketball Tournament chose to name the opening rounds the first and second rounds, the traditional name for the opening week that had gone by different names in recent years. For a full list of regional site hosts, click here.