By Barry Janoff
November 10, 2016: Seeking to lock in prime real estate while emulating the process used by other sports organizations that name their future championship sites years in advance, the NCAA has decided that the Men’s Div. I Basketball championships — aka Final Four — more than five years from now will be held in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
The event in 2022 will mark the sixth time the venue has hosted the Final Four and the first time in ten years.
The NCAA initiated its play-it-forward strategy for the Final Four in 2014, when it named future sites for 2017-2021.
"With the Final Four competing for many of the same venues that host major events such as the Super Bowl and College Football Playoff, we did not want to wait until 2018 to make the announcement for the 2022 Final Four," Dan Gavitt, vp-NCAA men’s basketball championships, said in a statement.
"That, combined with the milestone anniversaries we’ll celebrate at that time, made the decision to move forward with New Orleans hosting in 2022 the sensible thing to do."
Among the other priorities in naming championship sites well in advance: Giving local businesses and marketers time to activate.
"More than 50 future events resulting in greater than $1.2 billion in economic impact are on the schedule for the Dallas Sports Commission, including . . . the 2017 NCAA Women’s Final Four," according to the DSC.
American Airlines Center in Dallas was selected in 2014 to host the 2017 event.
Gavitt said that process would continue next year with the 2023, 2024 and 2025 Men's Final Four locations scheduled to be named in the summer of 2018.
“We look forward to another competitive bid process commencing after the 2017 Final Four when we’ll determine the next three hosts,” said Gavitt, referring to to Final Four games to be played in 2023-2025.
The NCAA initiated this procedure in 2015 for college football, when it selected the sites and cities that would host the college football National Title games for 2018-2020: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta; Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.; and Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, respectively.
The 2017 title game will be played in Raymond James Stadium, Tampa.
The NFL names the sites of future Super Bowls several years out, most recently this past May, voting host cities for Super Bowl LIII (February 2019) in Atlanta, Super Bowl LIV (February 2020) in Miami and Super Bowl LV (February 2021) in Los Angeles. (Super Bowl LI and Super Bowl LII will be played in Houston and Minneapolis, respectively.)
The International Olympic Committee names its host cities seven years in advance, with the next vote scheduled for September 2017 to select the host city for the 2024 Summer Games (from among Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest).
The Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee, part of the Division I Council, approved the men’s basketball committee’s recommendation for 2022.
Between now and 2022, upcoming Men’s Div. I Final Four sites are:
• April 1/3, 2017 University of Phoenix (AZ) Stadium
• March 31/April 2, 2018 Alamodome San Antonio
• April 6/8, 2019 U.S. Bank Stadium Minneapolis
• April 4/6, 2020 Mercedes-Benz Stadium Atlanta
• Dares TBD 2021 Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis
• Dates TBD 2022 Mercedes-Benz Superdome New Orleans
Between now and 2020 upcoming Women’s Div. I Final Four sites are:
• March 31/April 2, 2017 American Airlines Center, Dallas
• March 30/April 1, 2018 Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
• April 5/7, 2019 Amalie Arena, Tampa
• April 3/5, 2020 Smoothie King Center, New Orleans
The 2022 Final Four will mark the 40th anniversary of the 1982 title game in New Orleans, which featured North Carolina, led by coach Dean Smith and Michael Jordan, against coach John Thompson, Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas. The Tar Heels won the game 63-62 on Jordan’s jumper with 15 seconds to play.
It will also mark the 35th anniversary of the 1987 title game featuring coach Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers, whicj defeated coach Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse squad 74-73 on Keith Smart’s jumper with four seconds remaining.
The 2022 Final Four will also mark the 10th anniversary of last Final Four in New Orleans, played between the John Calipari-coached Kentucky Wildcats, led by freshman Anthony Davis, and the University of Kansas Jayhawks, coached by Bill Self, won by Kentucky, 67-59.
The 2022 Final Four will be the 84th year of the event. That year, the Superdome will join Municipal Auditorium (Kansas City, MO), Madison Square Garden (NY) and Freedom Hall (Louisville) as the only venues to have hosted at least six national championship games.
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