North Texas submitted a bid to host the Final Four again after showcasing college basketball’s marquee event last spring, but was left out of the mix as the NCAA announced the next cycle of host cities.
While North Texas wasn’t chosen, the NCAA didn’t shun the state. San Antonio was announced as the 2018 host city. Other host cities will be Phoenix (2017), Minneapolis (2019) and Atlanta (2020). The NCAA also said Indianapolis would host the 2021 Final Four, although the latest cycle was scheduled to only cover 2017-20.
Indy, which has an agreement with the NCAA to be a regular host, is the home for the 2015 Final Four. And Houston will get the event in 2016.
At April’s Final Four at AT&T Stadium, Dan Gavitt, NCAA vice president of men’s basketball, said the NCAA would “love to come back” to Arlington.
“I think it’s been an unqualified success,” Gavitt said at the time.
The knock on the stadium is that hotels and activities are not within walking distance. But April’s event showed that isn’t too big of an obstacle for the Metroplex to overcome, as there were record-setting crowds and minimal traffic snarls.
AT&T Stadium set three different attendance records: best-attended Final Four (158,682 for two sessions), largest crowd for an NCAA championship game (79,238 on Monday night) and largest single-day crowd for a college basketball game (79,444 for Saturday’s semifinal doubleheader).
“This is a superb arena, stadium and experience,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said at the time. “If you’re going to have games like this in big stadiums, they have got to be really good facilities or it just doesn’t work. This one works pretty darn well.”
North Texas will continue to bid for future Final Fours, and it seems more likely than not that it will be awarded a few. But some cities have to be passed over with new arenas being built elsewhere. New Orleans and St. Louis were the other finalists not to get a Final Four.
“We are disappointed at not having been selected for this rotation,” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “But we would like to congratulate San Antonio, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Indianapolis on earning the honor to host future Men’s Final Fours. It is our belief that North Texas and AT&T Stadium are a great location to host this event and we look forward to submitting another bid in the future to bring college basketball’s premier event back to the region.”
“We are excited that one site will be in a Big 12 market in San Antonio, as we are proud to have the city as a top bowl partner,” Bowlsby noted. “With North Texas, Houston and San Antonio there is great competition for marquee events in Texas and it shows by the fact this will be the seventh time since 1998 that the state has hosted this championship.”
“Speaking for the entire committee, I can’t express enough gratitude to each of the representatives of the finalist cities. They invested so much time and resources over the past year to make sure that each prospective host put its best foot forward,” said Scott Barnes, chairman of the Division I men’s basketball committee and Utah State athletics director, in a statement. “Everything — from the communication with the staff throughout the process, to the site visits that committee and staff members conducted in August and September, to the final in-person presentations held by each finalist’s representatives this week — was truly exceptional. To say that we were thoroughly impressed with each city is a gross understatement.
“Ultimately we had to consider every aspect of each bid and go through a voting process no different than when this group meets in March to select teams for the NCAA tournament. 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 for the first time in more than 20 years.”