According to a report from Andy Katz of ESPN.com, there have been some discussions about moving the Final Four out of domes and into a regular basketball arena.
The Final Four has been in a dome since 1996, when it was hosted by the Meadowlands, and is currently booked all the way through 2016, when the NCAA title will once again be won in Houston.
But new NCAA executive vice president for championships Mark Lewis has twice brought up the idea of moving the event back into basketball arenas. And while common-sense would lead you to believe that the decision would be made because basketball isn’t meant to be played in domed football stadiums without any kind of shooting backdrop to speak of, the truth of the matter comes down to the simple fact that the only domes are found in middle America.
In other words, a change to how we determine where the event will be located would bring the potential for Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and a handful of other major cities to play host:
Lewis told ESPN.com on Thursday that when he was hired earlier this year, he took out a United States map and saw that both coasts are largely left off from hosting the Final Four.
“I don’t know where this will lead, if anywhere, but the right thing is to sit down and have these conversations and see if we want our championship in more than eight cities or do we like playing exclusively in domes,” Lewis said.
“None of the cities where we play our championship is named New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago or Miami,” Lewis said. “We don’t play on a campus. We play in professional football arenas.”
I doubt that ever happens, and the reason can be found in that exact same article: “San Antonio hosted [the Final Four] in 1998, 2004 and ’08, but Lewis said he was told the Alamodome is now too small.” The Alamodome can hold as many as 72,000 when it is fully expanded, although, according to the Wikipedia page, it holds just under 40,000 for basketball games.
40,000 is double the capacity of places like Madison Square Garden, TD Garden and the United Center. And that’s still not enough.
I know the NCAA gets around $770 million a year based on their NCAA tournament deal with CBS/Turner, but are they really going to pass up all that income generated by ticket revenues?:
“It’s something we would want to explore,” Lewis said. “What’s the best place to play a basketball game? Is it harder to play in a dome? We’ve got to do what’s right for the game of basketball. I have a sports background but I’m not a basketball guy, so the answer should be driven by what’s the best experience for the student-athletes.”
I’ll believe it when I see it.