On Tuesday afternoon, the NCAA named the bulk of its championship sites for the 2018-19 through 2021-22 academic years. Since this is a college basketball blog, this post will naturally focus on the arenas that will serve as stops on the road to the Final Four in those seasons. And there’s quite a bit to unpack, as the race for one of the 12 pre-Final Four host slots is more competitive than it’s ever been. Over the next few postseasons, March action will return to several cities that were seemingly forgotten about over the past decade or more, while visiting a few brand new venues.
I won’t cover 2018’s sites in detail, since we already knew those. However, three of next season’s venues — Charlotte, Nashville, and Boston — missed the cut for the next four years, as did 2017 first weekend host Orlando and Final Four venue Glendale. However, with the NCAA moving away from holding regionals in domes, the Arizona site had no chance at selection with Final Fours set through 2022. Other regular sites passed over for the next five years include Syracuse, Dayton (outside of the First Four), Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, and Tucson.
Note: I’ve put the last time a city earned hosting duties in parentheses.
Thursday/Saturday: Des Moines (2016), Hartford (1998), Jacksonville (2015), Salt Lake City (2017)
Friday/Sunday: Columbia, S.C. (1970), Columbus (2015), Seattle (2015), Tulsa (2017)
Thursday/Saturday: Louisville (2015); Washington, D.C. (2013)
Friday/Sunday: Anaheim (2016), Kansas City (2017)
Yes, Hartford will host NCAA Tournament games after a 21-season gap, while the University of South Carolina’s 49-year wait will end when it hosts for the first time at Colonial Life Arena. While the Gamecocks’ current home opened in 2002, the NCAA barred the Palmetto State from postseason hosting duties from that year until 2015, thanks to the presence of the Confederate flag on the state house grounds.
Note that the Final Four in Minneapolis will take place at the Vikings’ new home, US Bank Stadium.
Thursday/Saturday: Albany (2003), St. Louis (2016), Spokane (2016), Tampa (2011)
Friday/Sunday: Cleveland (2015), Greensboro (2012), Omaha (2018), Sacramento (2017)
Thursday/Saturday: Indianapolis (2017); Los Angeles (2018)
Friday/Sunday: Houston (2016), New York (2017)
A new venue enters the Final Four rotation in 2020, as Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the replacement for the Georgia Dome, is the venue in Atlanta. In the early rounds, Greensboro, slated to host in 2017 before the North Carolina Legislature passed the anti-LGBTQ HB2 law, returns to the rotation, while New York’s capital will welcome March Madness for the first time since the 2003 East Regional.
Thursday/Saturday: Boise (2018), Dallas (2018), Detroit (2018), Lexington (2013)
Friday/Sunday: Providence (2016), Raleigh (2016), San José (2017), Wichita (2018)
Thursday/Saturday: Denver (2016); Minneapolis (2019)
Friday/Sunday: Brooklyn (2016), Memphis (2017)
There’s just one “new” venue for the 2021 NCAAs — the Target Center in Minneapolis — which will serve as the Midwest Regional’s venue a mere two seasons after the Twin Cities host the Final Four. Amazingly, while the home of the Timberwolves hosted the 1995 Women’s Final Four, it’s never been a first or second weekend site for the men’s tournament.
Thursday/Saturday: Buffalo (2017), Cincinnati (1992), Fort Worth (1970), Portland (2015)
Friday/Sunday: Greenville (2017), Milwaukee (2017), Pittsburgh (2018), San Diego (2018)
Thursday/Saturday: San Antonio (2018); San Francisco (1960)
Friday/Sunday: Chicago (2016), Philadelphia (2016)
New Orleans (2012)
While the Final Four returns to New Orleans for the first time in a decade in 2022, a whopping three cities will end even longer droughts earlier in that season’s NCAA Tournament. US Bank Arena, formerly known as Riverfront Coliseum, will host for the first time in 30 years during the first weekend, while Fort Worth will welcome March Madness to its new arena a full 52 years after TCU last hosted on campus. But that gap pales in comparison to the 62 years between NCAA games in San Francisco. The Golden State Warriors’ new home, Chase Center, will host the West Regional. The NBA franchise’s original home in the Bay Area, the Cow Palace (in Daly City, technically) hosted the 1960 Final Four — a full two years before the Warriors moved West.
Which arenas would you like to see host from 2023 on?