By Barry Janoff
November 17, 2014: March Madness 2015 is still several months away, but the NCAA has already jump-started madness for the next seven years, naming host cities and venues for 2017-21. The sites now get to anticipate not only bragging rights and the impending national spotlight, but potential financial highlights as well.
In addition to strong TV ratings — the 2014 Final Four on CBS ands Turner Sports peaked with an averaged of 18.6 million viewers — each respective city has the potential to experience a positive economic impact. According to reports and studies from groups in each respective Final Four city over the past decade, host communities see financial benefits of between $70 million and $200 million.
The Men's Div. 1 basketball Final Fours through 2021 will see a return to familiar sites and trips to new venues.
Including March Madness in 2015, the next seven Final Fours will be book-ended by games in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the city that is home to the NCAA.
This season's Final Four is scheduled for April 4-6, 2015. The Final Four returns there in 2021.
The 2016 Final Four site was previously unveiled as NRG (formerly Reliant) Stadium, April 2-4.
Among the just-named Final Four venues, the University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Az.) will on April 1-3, 2017 host the event for first time in the site of the NFL's upcoming Super Bowl XLIX. It also marks the first city west of Texas (Dallas,, San Antonio, Houston) to host the Final Four since 1995, when Seattle staged the event in the since-demolished Kingdome.
The Alamodome in San Antonio will see a return of the Final Four in 2018, where it was played in 1996, 2004 and most recently in 2008, which generated more than $55 million for the area, according to local organizers.
The Men's Div. I semi-final and championship games return to Minneapolis in 2019 for the first time since 2001 (played in the MetroDome), but will be staged in the new Vikings Stadium. The $1 billion domed facility, which will become home to the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, is expected to open for the 2016 NFL season. It already has been named as site for Super Bowl LII in 2018.
In 2020, the new $1.2 billion retractable-roof stadium being built for MLB's Atlanta Braves in time for the 2017 season will host its first Final Four. That also marks a return to the city following the men's Final Four in 2013, played in the Georgia Dome.
In 2010, the Final Four in Reliant Stadium generated an estimated $100 million in economic impact to the area, according to the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In 2012, with the concluding games of March Madness taking place in the Mercedes-Benz SuperDome, New Orleans realized an economic impact of $135 million, according to the New Orleans Visitors and Convention Bureau. The total includes $77 million of direct spending and $57.1 million of secondary spending. per a report from the University New Orleans Division of Business Economic Research.
Although final figures are still being crunched, the 2014 Men's Final Four played in AT&T Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys, was predicted to generate some $276 million to the North Texas economy, according to the state-organized Major Events Trust Fund.
Part of the overall spend is local activation from official NCAA partners; not included is how much these marketers spend en masse to support the men's basketball tournament.
NCAA corporate champions are AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola. Corporate partners include Allstate, Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, Burger King, Enterprise, Infiniti, Kindle Fire, Lowe's, LG, Nabisco, Northwestern Mutual, Reese's Unilever and UPS.
Regarding the 2019 event, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said after being awarded the Final Four, "That weekend's drama and excitement will bring tens of thousands of fans and millions of dollars in economic benefits to our state."
"[The Final Four] weekend's drama and excitement will bring tens of thousands of fans and millions of dollars in economic benefits to our state."
The NCAA's Division I Men’s Basketball Committee said that the five cities were selected from eight finalists to host the Final Four for the years 2017-2021. The other finalists for this round of Final Fours were New Orleans, North Texas and St. Louis, according to the NCAA.
"The Men's Final Four has grown into one of the biggest and best sporting events in the world, so it's easy to understand why these cities would put their best foot forward in attempt to secure a bid," Dan Gavitt, vp-men’s basketball. for the NCAA, said during the unveiling.
“The fact we had sites selected from the West, South, North, East and Midwest, and have five sites in three different time zones, is reflected in the votes," Scott Barnes, vp and AD for Utah State University and chairman for the Div. I Men’s Basketball Committee, said in a statement. "The discussion during this meeting centered on growing the game of college basketball and, most importantly, creating a positive experience for student-athletes and fans. We think we’ve accomplished that, and we’re obviously very excited."
According to Barnes, "We feel great about how those votes turned out and are confident this terrific event is in good hands for the foreseeable future. We are going to new buildings, cities that are universally loved for hosting great Final Fours and we are heading West (of Texas) for the first time in more than 20 years."
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