UD bids to keep First Four and host first- and second-round games

UD has submitted bid to host games in 2027 and 2028

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

The University of Dayton has submitted a bid to host NCAA tournament games in 2027 and 2028. In addition to continue hosting the First Four, Dayton also bid to host first- and second-round games, UD Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said Friday.

This week was the deadline to submit bids for all NCAA championship events, except the Final Four and College World Series, in those years.

“We did submit our bid to extend hosting the First Four in 2027 and 2028. We also submitted a bid for the first and second rounds,” Sullivan said. “Our region is uniquely qualified to continue our long standing and successful partnership with the NCAA Championship. In the near future, we will offer more comment and insight with our partners at the Big Hoopla and Convention and Visitors Bureau.”

A group of Ohio politicians have put their support behind Dayton’s bid.

U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and J.D. Vance (R-OH) and U.S. Representatives Mike Turner and Warren Davidson (R-OH-8) signed a letter addressed to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. The letter went out this week as UD bid to host the First Four in 2027 and 2028. According to a source,

The letter read, in part:

“Ohio sports fans are the most passionate in the country. Fans pack UD Arena and provide an atmosphere worthy of the first games of March Madness; a crowd that is loud, energetic, and ready to erupt — for either team. Visiting coaches rave about their First Four experience at Dayton. UD Arena and Dayton, Ohio take pride in providing a first-class experience for the visiting student athletes, coaches, and fans. You will not find a community more willing and able to make this event a celebration of college basketball and student athletes.

“We urge the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee to continue the tradition of beginning the tournament in Dayton and select the University of Dayton to host First and Second Round games in 2027 and 2028. We appreciate your consideration of this matter.”

Dayton has known since 2020 it would have the rights to host the First Four through 2026. UD Arena has hosted 133 games, far more than any other venue, since it opened in 1969. The number will keep growing in the years to come: 137 in 2024; 141 in 2025; and 145 in 2026.

The NCAA tournament has started in Dayton every season since 2001, except 2020, when the tournament was cancelled because of the pandemic, and 2021, when the entire tournament took place in Indiana.

UD Arena used to also host first and second-round games every three or four years, but it hasn’t hosted games past the First Four since 2013, even though it has sought those games in previous bids.

Every few years, Dayton has to bid on the right to host the First Four again. Prior to 2020, the last time the NCAA extended Dayton’s hosting rights was in 2017. Dayton secured the games through 2022 at that point. In 2014, Dayton won a three-year bid to keep the First Four through 2018

“We don’t ever assume that it’s ours,” Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said in 2020. “We feel like we have to earn it every year. We behave like that. We act like that. And so we compete like everybody else. It’s something we never take for granted, so you always have a little bit of anxiousness in waiting, but at the same time, we’re really confident in the experience that we deliver so we agree and are satisfied with with outcome.”

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