The 2013 NCAA First Four event at the University of Dayton Arena has been declared a sell out for the first time in its history during a press conference held Friday, Oct. 19.
UD also announced it has put in a bid to the NCAA for the rights of hosting the First Four part of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in a 10-year deal.
“Today we’re announcing that we have commitments from our community to sell out the First Four,” said Dan Curran, president of the University of Dayton. “Many of you have heard me speak on this in the past, I believe this is an important step for our region. This is where the NCAA Tournament should be heading every year, and we’re going to continue to pursue that and present our case.”
Tim O’Connell, the senior associate athletics director and facilities and executive director of UD Arena, said the First Four Local Organizing Committee began reaching out to businesses and other individuals on Oct. 8 and was able to finish selling tickets by Wednesday, Oct. 17. UD Arena is expected to hold 12,700 fans both days of the event.
According to Tim Wabler, UD vice president and director of athletics, the LOC deserves credit as well as current season ticket holders for the men’s basketball program in selling out.
“Our season ticket holders certainly covered the lower arena,” Wabler said. “I think our season ticket holders have just been great as far as coming to the events here at the University of Dayton around basketball. The local organizing committee took the rest and got it done.”
Wabler said the NCAA and UD have worked under two-year agreements for the previous 10 years when the First Four and Opening Round play-in game have been held at UD Arena.
With 2013 being the last year on the current agreement, a 10-year proposal was sent to the NCAA a few weeks ago in addition to the requested two-year bid to secure the rights to holding the event at UD for an extended period of time. According to O’Connell, it is hoped the NCAA will make its decision around Nov. 9.
Wabler said he does not know what other cities have put in bids at the moment, but there are others interested in holding the event.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” he said. “Because the NCAA Tournament has become such a big deal, we know we just have to keep earning them every year, year in and year out. We certainly do that operationally. I think when teams come here and communities come here, they feel great about how welcome they are.”
O’Connell said it’s going to be a major decision for the NCAA because there are currently no long term commitments made to any one location for any particular segment of the tournament.
Plans for holding another festival in downtown Dayton are entering the preparation stage, now that getting commitments to sell tickets has finished, according to J.P. Nauseef, the chairman of the LOC. He said how the committee goes about planning the experience around the First Four may be influenced by the ability to secure the event in Dayton for the long-term future.
“I think some of it will be contingent on whether we get the game in future years or not, because it’s different planning for a one-year event than it is for planning a multi-year event,” Nauseef said. “We really want to do some foundational planning, but we’re really looking forward to seeing what the NCAA decides to do.”
Nauseef said as a whole the committee stepped up after last year and it shows how people care for the city of Dayton, Montgomery County and area small businesses.
The NCAA expanded its men’s basketball tournament field from 64 teams to 65 in 2001, creating the Opening Round game between two schools. The event was awarded to the University of Dayton and held for 10 years. In 2011, the field again expanded from 65 to 68, and the First Four was created as the first-round of the tournament.
The 2013 edition of the First Four will be held March 19-20, 2013.