Lawmakers pushing NCAA to add more March Madness games at UD Arena

UD Arena, already the host of more March Madness games than any other arena in the nation, could add to its legacy as one of the nation’s premier college basketball facilities by adding the First and Second Rounds of the men’s tournament if the advocacy of Ohio’s Congressional delegation is successful.

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“For more than twenty years, March Madness has had its tip-off in Dayton. During this time, Dayton has hosted the ‘First Four’ or play-in games of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. As members of Ohio’s Congressional delegation, we offer our strong support of the University of Dayton’s application to continue that tradition,” U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D) and J.D. Vance (R) and U.S. Reps. Mike Turner (R-District 10) and Warren Davidson (R-District 8) wrote in a letter of support to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.

The delegation, in letter was released today (Thursday, Feb. 8), is calling on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee not only to continue hosting the First Four (play-in games) of the NCAA Division I men’s tournament at the University of Dayton, but to expand the First and Second Rounds to include UD Arena in 2027 and 2028.

March Madness 2024 tips off in 40 days with Selection Sunday. The NCAA men’s tournament sites are booked until 2026, and that means 2027 would be the first time Dayton could get those coveted first two rounds.

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The delegation’s advocacy has a proven track record of success in securing Dayton’s legacy in the tournament.

“With the exception of the tournaments impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, the first games of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, now referred to as the “First Four,” have been hosted by the University of Dayton and played at the historic University of Dayton Arena (UD Arena) every year since the tournament expanded in 2001,” the delegation’s letter states.

“The arena is home to the Dayton Flyers basketball teams, whose men’s team was ranked 21st nationally in average attendance last season, despite playing in a ‘mid-major’ conference. That passion carries over to the First Four, with UD Arena welcoming almost 25,000 fans over just two nights last year.

“UD Arena’s storied tradition of hosting NCAA tournament games stretches back to 1970, just one year after it opened. Since then, UD Arena has hosted more than 130 men’s tournament games, including the first two rounds of the 2001, 2006, 2009, and 2013 tournaments.

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“Dayton’s First Four tradition even stole political spotlights in 2012, when then-President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron watched a game in UD Arena’s courtside seats. UD Arena has demonstrated that they can successfully host the NCAA tournament in the past and is eager to do so in 2027 and 2028.

The delegation calls Ohio sports fans “the most passionate in the country.”

Visiting coaches rave about their First Four experience at Dayton, the delegation said in its letter.

“UD Arena and Dayton, Ohio, take pride in providing a first-class experience for the visiting student athletes, coaches, and fans. You will not find a community more willing and able to make this event a celebration of college basketball and student athletes.

“We urge the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee to continue the tradition of beginning the tournament in Dayton and select the University of Dayton to host First and Second Round games in 2027 and 2028.”

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