Last year's First Four drew more than 10,000 fans each night to UD Arena, and a national viewing audience of over five million people.
– The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee has announced that the Road to the Final Four will begin once again at the University of Dayton Arena this year.
In fact, it will begin in Dayton for at least the next two years as the NCAA announced that the tournament’s “First Four” event will be held in at the Arena March 13-14, 2012 and March 19-20, 2013.
The University of Dayton served as the host for the inaugural First Four last March. The games drew more than 10,000 fans each night to UD Arena, and a national viewing audience of over five million people. VCU emerged from the 2011 First Four to reach the 2011 Final Four.
“This is fantastic news, and a genuine representation of how important the support of the region is to the Basketball Committee,” UD Vice President and Director of Athletics Tim Wabler said. “As excited as we were last year when we were awarded the very first First Four, I am more excited by the fact that we have it in 2012 and 2013.
“This gives us a real opportunity to cement the First Four in Dayton for years to come. The Division I Baseball Championship is going on right now, and it’s our goal to make Dayton as synonymous with the First Four as Omaha is with the College World Series. I’m confident the collaborative effort and hard work by our First Four Local Organizing Committee, our hotel partners, and our staff will be first-rate, but the feedback from the teams about how welcoming the city was and the electric atmosphere in the Arena made it clear that our fans and the support of the community will be as critical in keeping the First Four in Dayton as it was in bringing it back.”
When the NCAA expanded the men’s basketball tournament field to 68 teams, the tournament format was changed to play the first round games of the tournament two days after Selection Sunday in the First Four. Two games feature four teams battling for two of the tournament’s No. 16 seeds, while the other two games will pit the last four at-large teams selected to the field.
The University of Dayton Arena is the most-used tournament venue in NCAA history. To date, UD Arena has hosted 87 NCAA men's tournament games, four more than the original home of the NCAA tournament, Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium. UD Arena has hosted NCAA tournament events in 25 of the 42 years since opening its doors for the 1969-70 season.
“Dayton has hosted 87 tournament games over the last 41 years, including the start of each championship since 2001, and the feedback from participating schools, the community’s enthusiasm and the commitment demonstrated by the University of Dayton staff make Dayton an ideal host for the First Four,” said Gene Smith, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee for the 2010-11 academic year.
“Last year, the committee explored several options when determining how the First Four should look and where it would be played. We decided Dayton would be best to host the inaugural event and now we believe we should start the championship in Dayton through its 75th anniversary in 2013."
In addition to hosting the First Four, Dayton will also serve as a second- and third-round host for the 2013 championship, as will Auburn Hills, Austin, Kansas City, Lexington, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and San Jose. Regional sites include Arlington, Indianapolis and Los Angeles, with the fourth site yet to be determined.
Ticket information for the 2012 First Four will be announced at a later date.