NCAA Scrapping Requirement For Tournament Regional Games To Be Played In Domes
The NCAA is "no longer mandating" that a men's basketball tournament regional be "played in a dome a year in advance of a Final Four at that site," according to Andy Katz of ESPN.com. But this "doesn't mean they won't award them to domes" when sites are decided next year for '17-20. If there is a new dome, "even in an old familiar Final Four city like in Atlanta, then there is a strong chance the new dome would get a regional for a test run." There is "no longer a mandate, however, which is a clear distinction." There still are a "few dome regionals already scheduled," including a '14 regional at Lucas Oil Stadium in advance of the '15 Final Four, and a '15 regional at Reliant Stadium in preparation for the '16 Final Four. Syracuse Univ.'s Carrier Dome also will host a '15 regional, but it "isn't in the same category since it isn't a Final Four site" (ESPN.com, 6/13). CBSSPORTS.com's Matt Norlander wrote the domes were "never selling out and they create a lackluster atmosphere compared to what the comforts of a true basketball arena can provide." It also is "interesting to note that any arena can make itself available for a Final Four going forward." There is a "clamoring among plenty of college hoops fans to get the sport's ultimate weekend back inside a traditional venue -- which hasn't happened since 1996 -- but ultimately that would be a shocker." The Final Four "can easily and always accommodate upward of 60,000 fans and so that makes it a financial boon for the NCAA and the schools making it to championship weekend" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/12). SI.com's Andy Glockner wrote there are "several constituents who should be happy with this news," including the Carrier Dome and tournament planners, as it will "help bring other locations more into play" (SI.com, 6/12).
CRYSTAL BALL: ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan wrote, "Rail as we might against the bloat of college athletics, and the impulse to cram 70,000 overcharged ticketholders into a football stadium, the Final Fours are going to be in domes for ... well, I would say the foreseeable future, but really the answer is more like 'forever.'" The NCAA "makes almost all of its money from the NCAA tournament." When "your yearly budget comes down to a handful of weeks in March, you're going to try to ring every last dollar out of those few opportunities" (ESPN.com, 6/12).