Las Vegas Final Four Sites Picked, Mandalay Bay Convention Center Ditched

Posted on: April 12, 2024, 09:17h. 

Last updated on: April 12, 2024, 09:28h.

Las Vegas will host the men’s 2028 NCAA March Madness Final Four at Allegiant Stadium. While that’s been known since the NCAA announced Sin City as its 2028 host almost two years ago, local officials this week decided where the finale’s annual Fan Fest and other events will be held.

NCAA Final Four March Madness Las Vegas
The NCAA Final Four Fan Fest is seen in 2018 when the men’s final was played in San Antonio. Las Vegas officials have decided where Fan Fest will be held when the Final Four comes to Southern Nevada in 2028. (Image: CBS 5)

The NCAA Fan Fest coincides with the men’s Final Four each April. Fan Fest is typically held in a large convention center and allows fans to play interactive games, purchase apparel, eat and drink, and meet athletes and celebrities.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), which pitched the NCAA bringing the most bet-on sporting tournament to Sin City, and which was awarded the 2028 hosting of the prized semifinal and championship game in November 2022, announced this week that Fan Fest will be held at the West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The West Hall is a $1 billion facility and the newest component of the Las Vegas Convention Center. It was completed in late 2020.

The older halls of the Convention Center, which is owned and operated by the LVCVA, are amid a $600 million renovation. The North, Central, and South halls are being modernized and refreshed, and a new parking lot is coming outside of Central Hall atop a Vegas Loop station.

Citywide Event

Unlike Las Vegas’ hosting of Super Bowl LVIII in February when the NFL championship game’s Fan Experience was held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, which is within walking distance of Allegiant Stadium, planning officials are distancing the Final Four and Fan Fest. The reason is to alleviate the heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic that was experienced during February’s Super Bowl on the Strip’s southern end.

The Final Four will also be accompanied by several music festivals. A Final Four planning committee proposed this week holding those live concerts at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center and in downtown Las Vegas along Fremont Street.

The goal, planning reps said, is to make the Final Four a citywide event that stems from the southern end of Strip up north to downtown’s Fremont Street.

The Final Four games will all be played inside Allegiant, the home of the NFL Las Vegas Raiders, which will be modified to host college basketball. The games will have a capacity for more than 70K fans.

Long Road to Vegas

The NCAA opposed hosting major events in Southern Nevada for decades because of the city’s widespread sports gambling. After the US Supreme Court struck down a federal law in May 2018 that limited single-game sports betting to Nevada, a landmark ruling that allowed nearly 40 states to have legal sports gambling, college sports’ governing body eased its opposition to Las Vegas.

Nearly six years later, the NCAA has embraced sports betting, as the expanded gaming has increased interest and viewership. However, that isn’t to say that NCAA officials aren’t keeping close tabs on sports betting’s impact on its student-athletes and the integrity of its competitions.

At the forefront of player safety is the NCAA’s wish to prohibit player prop bets on individual college athletes. Most states ban oddsmakers from allowing such wagers, but Nevada continues to allow bettors to bet on lines like how many points Purdue center Zach Edey will score in a single game.