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Volume 25 No. 61
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NCAA Announces Men's Basketball Final Four Hosts For '23-26

The NCAA yesterday picked Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio and Indianapolis as "host cities for the NCAA men's basketball Final Four" from '23-26, according to Kyle Bongura of ESPN.com. The cities "were chosen from a group that also included" L.A., Detroit and North Texas. NCAA Senior VP/College Basketball Dan Gavitt said, "All those cities have hosted the event with overwhelming success in recent years, and yet all of them approached the bid process with an unassuming energy" (ESPN.com, 7/16). In Houston, Joseph Duarte in a front-page piece notes '23 will be the "fourth time the event will be held" in the city, and the Final Four "joins a growing list of major sporting events that will be held in the city over the next several years." Houston will host an NCAA Tournament regional in '20, the CFP title game in '24 and is "among 17 cities vying to host as part of the winning North American bid" for the '26 FIFA World Cup. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner: "This is another big moment, big day for the city of Houston. No other city can put on big events like the city of Houston." Duarte notes the Univ. of Houston, Rice, Texas Southern and Houston Baptist "will serve as hosts" for the event at NRG Stadium, marking the "first time four Division I schools have jointly hosted the Final Four" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/17).

MORE FROM THE WINNING BIDS: In Phoenix, Jeff Metcalfe in a front-page piece notes the Final Four will make its second appearance at Univ. of Phoenix Stadium in '24, and the successful bid was a "collaborative effort" among the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority, local municipalities, tourism bureaus, Arizona State, the Cardinals and the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee. ASU will "serve as the host." NCAA Dir of Media Coordination & Statistics David Worlock said '17 was a "very successful Final Four." Worlock: "The feedback we received from our constituents was overwhelmingly positive. That certainly helped (Phoenix's bid)" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/17). In San Antonio, Tom Orsborn in a front-page piece notes the city landed the Final Four "for the fifth time." Despite critics who have "complained about the age of the Alamodome," San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg "has said it continues to be a premier sports facility" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 7/17). In Indianapolis, Andrew Hussey in a front-page piece notes '26 will be the "ninth time the city will host" a Final Four, making it "second only" to K.C., which has hosted 10. Indiana Sports Corp President Ryan Vaughn said that technology "will be one major area where they will look to innovate" for '26. The event will be "hosted by the Horizon League and IUPUI" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/17).

COMING OUT ON THE SHORT SIDE: In Dallas, Brad Townsend writes recent allocations of Final Four bids "have spoken resoundingly against Arlington and AT&T Stadium, which on Monday learned that the city and stadium's drought of hosting national college title events will stretch well into the next decade." Perhaps "worst of all for North Texas" is that Houston and San Antonio "clearly have lapped this region in desirability, at least in the eyes of the NCAA." In announcing the '23-26 sites, NCAA officials "cited the proximity of hotels and entertainment options to the venues." That "long has been a drawback for comparatively remote AT&T Stadium." The '14 Final Four at AT&T Stadium "holds the Final Four records for semifinals attendance (79,444), championship game attendance (79,238) and total attendance (158,682)." However, North Texas has learned that bigger "does not necessarily mean better" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/17). Meanwhile, in Detroit, George Stoia notes when the Pistons submitted a bid for the NBA All-Star Game for '20 or '21, Vice Chair Arn Tellem "indicated that hotels might have been a stumbling block." Detroit "has hosted the Final Four "only one time" in '09 (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/17).

DRAWING THE CURTAINS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Rachel Bachman in a front-page piece noted the NCAA is "forcing stadiums to cloak some of their best assets" -- the "large swaths of glass or high-tech see-through material" -- with curtains during the Final Four. It cost between $700,000-800,000 to buy curtains for NRG Stadium's "vast, opaque roof, and $110,000 for every put-up-take-down cycle." NRG Park GM Mark Miller: "When we originally made the blackout curtains, we bought every square foot of that fabric that they could find in the United States." Bachman notes Univ. of Phoenix Stadium "has 21 huge, slotlike windows that triple its exterior." Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority President & CEO Tom Sadler indicated that his group commissioned $50,000 of curtains before the '17 Final Four. NCAA officials said that "even as stadium designs let in more sun, the NCAA still wants its signature championship to feel like the competition is taking place in the smaller, darker arenas where basketball was born" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/17). The estimated cost for curtains to black out U.S. Bank Stadium, which will host the '19 NCAA Final Four, is $5.2M (THE DAILY).