College Basketball: Could the Final Four Ever Return to Arenas?
The NCAA and the men's basketball selection committee have thrown a radical idea on the table: moving the Final Four out of a dome and into an arena in a major metropolitan city, ESPN's Andy Katz is reporting.
Earlier this year, the NCAA hired Mark Lewis as the new executive vice president for championships to oversee "the Association’s 89 championships as well as its business initiatives, including the corporate and media partner programs."
The talks are just in the brainstorming stage, but Lewis is exploring the idea to consider large population areas that don't have domed stadiums.
"None of the cities where we play our championship is named New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago or Miami," Lewis said. "We don't play on a campus. We play in professional football arenas."
The next four Final Four locations are already set:
The Georgia Dome in Atlanta (2013)
Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas (2014)
Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis (2015)Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Reliant Stadium in Houston (2016)
If the consideration was strictly on what would create the best game quality, the move would have greater possibilities.
USA Today's Steve Wieberg, in his March 21, 2012 article, "Domes No Friend to NCAA Shooters," gave some significant stats that speak to the negative impact that playing in domes has over playing in arenas:
Overall shooting: 37% in domes a year ago, down from a combined 46% for those same teams during the regular season and almost 47% in non-dome tournament games.
Three-point shooting: 31% in domes, down from the teams' 37% during the regular season and 38%-plus in non-dome tournament games.
Free throw shooting: down from 71% during the regular season and in non-dome tournament games to 67% in domes.
Wieberg added, "Games in domes over the two-year period analyzed by USA TODAY were considerably lower scoring, by an average of a little more than 20 points from the regular season and 14 from earlier, non-dome games in the NCAA tournament."
Will there ever be another Final Four in a non-dome stadium?
But, unfortunately, dollars will drive this decision.
The move from domes to arenas would be shocking just from the fact that, in doing so, the NCAA would be reducing the number of possible tickets sold from approximately 70,000 to no more than 20-25,000.
This decision alone would decrease ticket sales revenue by tens of millions of dollars on an annual basis or drive the ticket prices to ridiculous amounts, making it unlikely that the average fans could still attend this event.
As much as we could fantasize about a Final Four at Madison Square Garden, Chicago's United Center or LA's Staples Center, it's just not gonna happen.
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