Nashville "scored a major victory by pulling off its first Final Four with great success" and likely took a "big step toward securing the return of the event," according to sources cited by Mike Organ of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. Mountain West Conference Senior Associate Commissioner of Compliance Carolayne Henry, who this year served as NCAA D-I Women's Basketball Committee Chair, said, "I'm going to put my plug in for Nashville to get to host again, that's for sure." Organ notes the city is "among seven finalists for the opportunity to serve as host" during one of the years in the next open cycle from '17-20. Nashville, Columbus, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay "will send representatives to the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis over the next few months, and NCAA representatives will visit each city." The four hosts will "be announced in November." Henry said that the components of Nashville she "liked most were that Bridgestone Arena was within walking distance of so many hotels, restaurants and other entertainment venues along with the manner in which Nashvillians welcomed the event." Nashville Sports Council Senior VP & COO Gary Alexander estimated that 20,000-30,000 visitors "came to town during the event." Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner Beth DeBauche, whose conference served as the Final Four host, said that she "was confident it did the best job that could be done." DeBauche: "It far exceeded our expectations, and we had really high expectations. We are elated. ... This is a cherished event for the NCAA. We tried to take good care of it, and we think that we were able to do that" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 4/9).
Events and Attractions
Univ. of Phoenix Stadium will host the Pro Bowl on Jan. 25, 2015, marking just the "second time in 36 years" that the game will not be played in Hawaii, according to Ferd Lewis of the HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER. The Pro Bowl will be "piggy backing the Super Bowl, which will be held on Feb. 1, 2015 at the same site." NFL officials said that the Pro Bowl will "return to Aloha Stadium" in '16 and may also be held there in '17, "pending agreement of the NFL and Hawaii." The Pro Bowl was first held at Aloha Stadium in '80 and has been played there "every year except 2010, when it was held" in Sun Life Stadium in conjunction with Super Bowl XLIV. An NFL source said that Cardinals President Michael Bidwill, who "pushed the joint Pro Bowl/Super Bowl package with Commissioner Roger Goodell, was, 'heavily involved' in securing the deal." The NFL said that both it and Hawaii "have options" for the '17 game and "a 'collective' decision will be made later" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 4/10). In Phoenix, Kent Somers notes Bidwill approached Goodell about hosting the game "more than a year ago." Tickets for the Pro Bowl will be available "first to Cardinals season ticket members and annual Pro Bowl season ticket holders." Pro Bowl annual ticket subscribers in Hawaii will "maintain their account status for any future games at Aloha Stadium" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/10).
RISING PHOENIX: In Phoenix, Bob Young writes the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, along with the PGA Tour Waste Management Phoenix Open, will "put the Valley at the epicenter of the sports world for a couple of weeks." It is the "kind of impact" that Cardinals Owner & Chair Bill Bidwill "envisioned long before the unique domed stadium with a retractable roof and slide-in natural turf that opened in 2006 was even on a drawing board." Glendale will "grow and development will continue around the stadium." In the "meantime, the Valley has become a player on the national sports scene" because of the stadium, the Cardinals and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/10).
Top Rank Chair Bob Arum was upset yesterday with MGM Grand Garden Arena execs, who "have the property decorated to the hilt with signage and promotion for the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana fight that the MGM will host on May 3, rather than an all-out blitz" for Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley Jr. rematch, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com. Although there is Pacquiao-Bradley signage "in the main lobby, there is little elsewhere." However, Mayweather-Maidana advertising "is everywhere," including a "massive banner down the side of the building with Mayweather’s picture." Mayweather-Maidana "adorns slot machines throughout the casino and there are rotating signs hanging from the ceilings along the casino’s Studio Walk." Arum "lambasted the MGM Grand" in the closing remarks of yesterday's promotional news conference, and made his comments with MGM President Richard Sturm "sitting right next to him." Sturm, whom Arum had "earlier introduced to make his remarks as MGM 'president of hanging posters for the wrong fight,' did not look happy, but did not make any comments." Arum has had a "rocky relationship with the MGM Grand in recent years, one of the reasons why he has done so much business with The Wynn and held fights at the Thomas & Mack Center" (ESPN.com, 4/9). In Las Vegas, Case Keefer notes Sturm was "rattled, understandably sitting stoically throughout the barbs while everyone else on the stage burst into laughter, but kept cordial with his comments." Mayweather is "enemy No. 1" for Arum, and he now sees MGM Grand as a "glorified member of 'The Money Team'" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 4/10).
ONE-TWO PUNCH: In L.A. Bill Dwyre writes Arum is Don King "with a college degree and a logical flow to his bombast." When there is "controversy in his sport, he is a moth to flame." Arum "ripped the MGM, pouring salt in the wound by comparing it, obviously unfavorably, to Las Vegas Strip hotel competitor the Venetian, which is 'making $500 million a quarter.'" That jab was "more tactical than random." The Venetian is "owned by Sheldon Adelson, Arum's current business partner in his quest to increase his Top Rank Promotions revenue by holding fights in Adelson's Venetian Macao casino" (L.A. TIMES, 4/10). Arum said that MGM Resorts Int'l Chair & CEO Jim Murren "apologized to Top Rank president Todd duBoef." Arum added that MGM Resorts President & CMO Bill Hornbuckle "made similar apologies to duBoef." However, Arum said "there has been an internal battle going on over there" at the MGM. He added that Sturm "made the decision on his own to put the advertising for the Mayweather fight up prominently inside the casino." YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Iole noted that is "extremely rarely done in boxing in Las Vegas, where a casino would advertise a future fight while a current one is going on, because promoters have dramatically different sponsors and corporate partners." Arum said that he "isn't concerned that he'll be blackballed from doing fights at the MGM" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/9).