ARLINGTON, Texas - Just a few weeks before the Final Four is coming to town, talks are already underway about a return trip down the road.
The Big 12 Conference and the North Texas region have been named a finalist to host a future Men's Final Four, the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committees announced. The process to identify the Final Four locations for 2017-2020 will conclude in November 2014 for both the men's and women's championships.
North Texas and the Big 12 will host the 2014 NCAA Men's Final Four at AT&T Stadium. It will be the first Final Four in the region since the 1986 event took place at Reunion Arena in Dallas.
"The Big 12 has a long and successful history of hosting NCAA basketball competition and we are excited to move forward in the process," said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. "The Conference and the entire region look forward to hosting the NCAA in April."
The eight finalists for the Men's Final Four are Atlanta, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, North Texas, Phoenix/Glendale, San Antonio and St. Louis. Those cities/regions have combined to host 24 previous Men's Final Fours, and are scheduled to host the next two as well (Indianapolis will host in 2015).
"We are excited to have our region take the next step in the Final Four bid process with the NCAA," noted Charlotte Anderson, Executive Vice President of the Dallas Cowboys. "We have an outstanding group working together to bring the tournament back to North Texas, and we look forward to showing the NCAA what we are capable of by putting on a great championship for them in April."
The Big 12 has hosted NCAA men's competition 10 times through the 2014 season. In addition, the league has hosted its postseason conference tournament in Dallas on three occasions in its history (2003, '04, 06). The City of Dallas and American Airlines Center were also chosen as a finalist for the Women's Final Four between 2017-20.
"The committee and staff have been thoroughly impressed with the quality of bids, the level of detail and the incredible enthusiasm that the individuals behind each bid have demonstrated thus far in the process," said Dan Gavitt, the NCAA vice president for men's basketball. "The Men's Final Four has grown into one of the biggest and best sporting events in the world, so it's easy to understand why these [embedded_ad] cities would put their best foot forward in attempt to secure a bid. We fully expect the remainder of the bid process to be competitive, and while it's obvious that there are difficult decisions ahead, we also know that based on what we have seen so far from these prospective hosts, we are going to have great Final Fours in the coming years."
Completed bids are due in May, with the respective committees and staffs spending the summer reviewing each bid before making site visits to each finalist city in August, September and October. Representatives from each finalist city will make in-person presentations to the respective committees during their annual fall meetings in early November 2014 in Indianapolis, followed by the announcement of the winning bids later that month.
The preliminary rounds for the 2016-18 men's basketball tournaments will also be announced in November.
Prospective bid cities had until mid-October to submit a declaration of intent to bid, a draft budget, hotel rates and confirmation of adherence to the NCAA's bid specifications by mid-November. The men's basketball staff and select committee members met with representatives of each city's host committee last month and updated the men's basketball committee at meetings in San Diego earlier this month. When evaluating prospective hosts, the committee will review each city's competition venue, transportation and lodging, and the region's overall commitment to the event. For the Men's Final Four, venues must hold a minimum of 60,000 fans, and host cities or regions must be able to provide at least 10,000 full-service hotel rooms within reasonable proximity to the competition venue.