Big Hoopla, First Four ‘bounces back’ to Dayton

DAYTON — The First Four of the NCAA tournament is bouncing back in Dayton after COVID-19 caused the NCAA to bypass Dayton the last couple of years.

The crown jewel of it all is the First Four and the Big Hoopla, various community events in conjunction with the tournament.

City officials said this could be the first real come-back event for the Miami Valley.

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“We are so happy to have the First Four back. It’s hard to believe it was two years ago and boy that was depressing for us,” Debbie Lieberman, Montgomery County Commissioner said.

The 2020 NCAA tournament was canceled and 2021 was held exclusively in Indiana — the only time since 2001 that the tournament didn’t start in Dayton.

“We’ve always loved the event but the fact that we’re going to have it back and it’s going to be bigger and better, we’re just really excited,” Lieberman said.

The First Four is just one of many big events that have been canceled in Dayton over the past couple of years, possibly causing the city to lose millions.

“This is about $5 million dollar bang for this community because of the people that come in and go to eat, stay at the hotels and shop,” Commissioner Judy Dodge explained.

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It’s not just a boom for the local economy, but it also brings people to Dayton.

“We get notes from the coaches and kids later on saying ‘you made us feel so good to come here, thank you,’” Dodge said.

It’s also going to give Dayton a chance to show off all the renovations made to the UD Arena since 2019.

Many events that are part of the Big Hoopla start on Selection Sunday, March 13.