UD Arena to continue to host First Four through 2026


Indianapolis, INDIANA (WDTN) – University of Dayton Arena will extend its streak for tipping off March Madness to 26 years. The tournament has opened here each year since 2001.

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee announced Wednesday that the First Four of its tournament will be played at the University of Dayton Arena in 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026.

“We are proud that the University of Dayton, The Big Hoopla, and our community partners will continue to be the tip-off for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship,” UD Vice-President and Director of Athletics Neil Sullivan said. “We are about two things when it comes to hosting the NCAA tournament – a championship experience for the student-athletes and teams involved, and capacity crowds to ignite the tournament and present our community in the best possible light. 

“We appreciate that the NCAA has entrusted all of us in the Dayton region with this responsibility.  It is not something that we take lightly. 

“It’s great that UD Arena will continue to be part of one of the nation’s premier sporting events.”

University of Dayton Arena has hosted more NCAA men’s Division I basketball tournament games — 125 — than any other venue in the nation.

University of Dayton Arena has hosted the NCAA tournament in 33 of the 51 seasons since the Arena opened in 1969.  March Madness has opened in Dayton every year since 2001 — from 2001-10 as the Opening Round and from 2011-19 as the First Four.

With the help of the First Four Local Organizing Committee in 2011, the University and region played host to Virginia Commonwealth, which went from First Four to Final Four. In 2012, it hosted U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2012. In 2013, all 10 First Four and second- and third-round games sold out, setting a record. In 2014, the First Four drew capacity crowds and record-setting viewership and ratings.

The Big Hoopla First Four® Local Organizing committee, an all-volunteer group, has rallied community leaders, sponsors and organizations to showcase the Dayton region as the Epicenter of College Basketball and its commitment to hosting first-class events.

While supporting the University position as a preferred host site, the committee works collaboratively to drive significant, long-term economic value for the Dayton region by leveraging the media reach of the NCAA Tournament and March Madness to promote and advocate for the region’s unique attributes – pride and respect for the military (United States Air Force and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base), a strong sense of service, an innovative history, the importance of STEM education, collaboration, and Midwestern hospitality.

It is Big Hoopla’s goal to make the NCAA First Four a lifelong memory for all participants, coaches, administrators, fans, and media and to continue to solidify the NCAA First Four in Dayton.

The Hoopla Ticket Program is the committee’s highly successful, charitable community outreach program. Each ticket purchased as part of the Hoopla Ticket Program is donated to a local student or airmen and families stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB). The Hoopla Ticket Program has provided, free-of charge, more than 30,000 tickets in the last several years.

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