The University of Dayton will have two surprise guests at the First Four next week.
President Barack Obama will be in Dayton for the first set of NCAA tournament games Tuesday, March 13, along with British Prime Minister David Cameron. The White House confirmed Thursday, March 8, that the two will join in on the basketball activities surrounding UD.
“The University of Dayton Arena is steeped in basketball history, serving as the stage for many great tournament moments and as host to more Division I men’s games than any other arena in the country,” said ananonymous White House official to Dayton Daily News. “The President and the Prime Minister look forward to a great game between some of our nation’s finest collegiate athletes.”
There is no confirmed word on how long Obama and Cameron will be at UD Arena or campus. The Dayton Daily News article said the White House will release more details in the coming days.
The First Four is the opening round of the 68-team Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. The four games over two days at UD Arena will be between four automatic qualifiers and the last four at-large teams to qualify for the tournament.
Dayton Daily News reported Tuesday, March 6, that UD had sold about 10,000 two-day tickets for the games, a number similar to last year’s attendance. UD Arena seats 13,455 fans, but the article said that will be lowered by 900 because of additional media, so over 2,000 tickets likely still remain for the games.
In addition, UD administrators are encouraging students to take part in the First Four Festival Sunday, March 11, in the Oregon District.
Dean of Students Christine Schramm emailed students Thursday about the event. She said there will be free parking downtown, and free bus shuttles through the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority that will run every 15 minutes from UD Arena with stops on Stewart and Brown streets.
The First Four Festival will run from noon to 10:30 p.m. Sunday, and a university press release said thousands of fans are expected to attend the free event. More than 300 volunteers will be organizing the day’s activities.
Some of the highlights include big-screen TVs showing conference championship games and then the Selection Show for the NCAA tournament at night. Also, there will be free food, live entertainment — including a basketball tournament with former local players — Air Force displays and other family-friendly activities.
For more information including parking maps and a full list of First Four Festival activities, visitfirstfour.daytonflyers.com.