SBD/March 18, 2014/Events and Attractions

Dayton Hopes To Keep NCAA Tournament's First Four, As Bidding Approaches After '15

Schools that win a First Four game receive an NCAA tournament unit worth $1.5M
The city of Dayton is "guaranteed to host the NCAA tournament’s First Four" through '15, but nothing is guaranteed beyond that, making the next two nights "among the most important postseason basketball dates ever at UD Arena," according to a front-page piece by Brian Kollars of the DAYTON DAILY NEWS. The NCAA this summer will accept bids for the First Four from '16-18 and "announce the winning venue by year’s end." Dayton has been the site for the first game of the tourney every year since '01, and NCAA VP/Men's Basketball Dan Gavitt earlier this month said the city is "in the pole position" to keep the games. Gavitt: "They’ve done this and done it well for so long … There is interest from other communities to be sure, so it’ll be a competitive process." Kollars reports only 1,000 tickets as of yesterday afternoon "remained for tonight’s doubleheader," which features Albany-Mount St. Mary's and N.C. State-Xavier. About 1,600 tickets yesterday "were available for Wednesday’s session" of Cal Poly-Texas Southern and Iowa-Tennessee. First Four local organizing committee spokesperson Matt Farrell said that a "good indication of the event’s momentum is that 70 local organizations supported a program that purchases tickets that are distributed to students and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base airmen." Twenty businesses "pitched in two years ago" (DAYTON DAILY NEWS, 3/18). UD AD Tim Wabler said, "We'd love to be the host of First Four as long out as they will give it. The community has really gotten behind this, and not necessarily as an event to have for economic development, but also around community pride and that the entire community gets to enjoy it" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/18).

FIRST FORTUNE: USA TODAY's Nicole Auerbach reports for schools and their conferences, there is "a major difference between a No. 16 seed that gets put in the NCAA tournament's main draw" and one sent to the First Four. That difference is "potentially worth" $1.5M, which is "how much an NCAA tournament unit is worth." Since the First Four games are "considered a tournament round, the winners of those matchups earn a unit." CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said, "We joke about it in the conference offices, but if you're going to have a 16 seed, let's go to Dayton." The No. 16 seeds in the First Four this week -- Albany, Mount St. Mary's, Cal Poly and Texas Southern -- "have an opportunity to double their earnings." Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell said, "When the whole concept of the play-in games first came up, as a conference commissioner I wasn't very excited about the prospect of having a team playing in those games. But in all honesty, when they put the financial reward on winning that game, it certainly changed my viewpoint about it" (USA TODAY, 3/18).
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