On Friday evening, the Final Four sites for 2017-2021 were announced on live on the CBS Sports Network before the start of the Quicken Loans Veterans Classic in Annapolis, Maryland.
2017: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
2018: Alamodome, San Antonio
2019: “Vikings Stadium”, Minneapolis
2020: “New Atlanta Stadium”, Atlanta
2021: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
The other locations that competed for Final Fours were New Orleans, North Texas (Dallas) and St. Louis. The 2017 Final Four will mark the first time the University of Phoenix hosts the event. Minneapolis, which expects to open a new stadium in 2016, gets the Final Four in 2019, a year after Super Bowl LII is played there. Atlanta is also expected to open a new stadium in 2017.
The 2015 Final Four will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The 2016 Final Four, which was previously announced, will be hosted by NRG Stadium in Houston.
In the recent history of the Final Four the need to have a large arena, one that’s able to accommodate at least 60,000 fans, has resulted in the event being played in a few select cities. Texas has hosted a pair of Final Fours this century, with Houston doing so in 2011 and Arlington hosting the event last season. Cities such as Indianapolis and New Orleans have become fixtures on the list of Final Four hosts, but the latest round of bidding to host a Final Four has resulted in other locales getting into the act.
One metropolitan area that has joined the bidding process is Phoenix, with the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona being the proposed host. With hopes of getting the opportunity to host a Final Four at some point during the 2017-2020 “rotation,” officials for the region’s organizing committee are hosting members of the Division I men’s basketball committee Tuesday and Wednesday.
And in a story written by Jeff Metcalfe of AZCentral.com, the organizing committee is looking to apply lessons learned from a failed attempt in 2008 to earn the honor of hosting college basketball’s most important event. One lesson: make sure the host school, Arizona State, is more intimately involved with the process of putting together a bid for the Final Four.
“We knew we wanted to bid again, although that was the first question we asked ourselves,” said Dawn Rogers, Arizona State senior associate athletic director. “We talked with (ASU President) Dr. (Michael) Crow to make sure this is something the university wanted to support.”
Crow not only encouraged another bid but wants the nation’s largest university to be a much more active partner than most host institutions.
Changes within the Arizona State system have helped the organizing committee strengthen its bid, with the school’s Phoenix campus better developed now than it was in 2008. As a result, the committee has made greater use of that campus when discussing the possibilities with the men’s basketball committee when it comes to what activities could be hosted Final Four weekend.
Having a Final Four in the Phoenix metropolitan area would bring the Final Four back to the western United States for the first time since 1995, when the since-demolished Kingdome in Seattle played the role of host. With that building gone, University of Phoenix Stadium is essentially the region’s best hope at hosting the Final Four in the near future.
And one would have to imagine that the region’s weather (average temperature of 85 degrees in April) would be a selling point as well.
Some progress has been made in the process of picking locations for the Final Fours in 2017-2020, according to ESPN.com’s Andy Katz.
Houston, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Detroit are, as Katz termed it, “unlikely” to receive any of those four Final Four. That leaves Indianapolis, New Orleans, San Antonio, North Texas, Phoenix and Atlanta as the remaining options.
Indianapolis will likely get one of those four Final Fours. Not only is it where the NCAA calls home, but it’s also the best city for hosting major sporting events. Lucas Oil Stadium is located downtown with a myriad of hotels, bars and restaurants surrounding it. Everything worth going to is within walking distance, which creates a terrific atmosphere for a three-day event like the Final Four.
North Texas, where the 2014 Final Four was held, was awful. Cowboys Stadium is a good 30 minutes outside of Dallas, there’s no centralized location where fans can congregate and getting to the stadium for the game is an absolute nightmare.
As much as I would enjoy a trip to Phoenix in the spring, if I was the one making the picks here, Indy, New Orleans, Atlanta and San Antonio would be the four cities getting these Final Fours.
Katz also mentioned in that report that Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will be making a push to host the First Four at the Sanford Pentagon Arena. That building played host to a game between Wisconsin and St. John’s last November. Wichita State and Memphis will play there this season.