The NCAA “really likes” Denver. If Broncos build dome it might just bring Final Four

Jalen Bridges (11) of the Baylor Bears throws a pass as Evans Kipruto (12) of the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos defends during the second half of Baylor's 74-56 win in the first round NCAA men's basketball tournament at Ball Arena in Denver on Friday, March 17, 2023. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

The main concourse at Ball Arena Friday afternoon looked like I-25 without the road rage. Strangers clad in bright blue (Creighton), navy blue (Gonzaga), green (Baylor) or purple (TCU, Grand Canyon) sweatshirts found themselves crammed shoulder-to-shoulder, creeping toward a pricey beverage or restroom stall at a snail’s pace.

“The hotels (here) are good. The infrastructure is good. (There’s) a little bit of traffic, for sure,” Baylor guard and Georgia native Adam Flagler told The Post Saturday.

“I think they were fixing a little bit of the roads and everything. (Isn’t there) a riverwalk?”

There is.

“Yeah, I would love to see that. You know, Denver would be a nice place for this tournament to finish out.”

Sure would. Denver was one of only two NCAA tourney sites over the first weekend of the Big Dance to feature single-session crowds of at least 19,000. And Ball Arena pulled it off twice.

Whether it was Grand Canyon fans going bonkers or TCU’s JaKobe Coles capping the night with a game-winning buzzer-beater, March Madness fit Chopper Circle like one of Cinderella’s slippers.

So who’s up for hosting a Final Four?

“While we have had nothing but good experiences with Denver, the venue and the Mountain West Conference office personnel as hosts of past and present preliminary rounds of the tournament,” David Worlock, the NCAA’s director of media coordination and statistics, told The Post via email, “we have not previously given any consideration to the city as a potential (men’s basketball) Final Four host because the city doesn’t currently have an adequate venue to host the event.”

The NCAA’s cover charge for hosting the organization’s showcase event is simple but massive: A climate-controlled facility with a minimum seating capacity of 60,000.

Which means …

“A new venue or a roof being built at Empower Field would be necessary,” Worlock said.

And there’s the sticking point.

NCAA “really likes coming to Denver”

If you build it, will they come? Sure. Probably. We think. The NCAA’s bureaucratic strike zone is like Denver weather. The only consistency is inconsistency.

But you can’t argue that the metro hurt its case last week. Publicly-available tickets to the Ball Arena site were pretty much gone by late January, according to the Mountain West, making Denver one of the first opening-weekend sites to sell out.

And the Front Range showed up — Friday’s two sessions drew 38,301, or 99% of capacity (19,338 per session). The building saw 19,149 for the afternoon twin bill with Baylor-UC Santa Barbara and Creighton-NC State and another 19,152 for the evening one that featured Gonzaga-Grand Canyon and TCU-Arizona State.

During the NCAA’s last bid cycle, Ball Arena was the only indoor venue in the running to receive two first- and second-round hosting duties more than once over what’s roughly a four-year cycle. Downtown Denver will host men’s first- and second-round games again in 2025.

“So (the NCAA), they really like coming to Denver,” Matthew Payne, executive director at the Denver Sports Commission, told The Post. “They already love the market of Denver. So I think (an indoor Broncos stadium) would help our …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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