March Madness Comes to Sin City as NCAA Awards Vegas 2023 Hoops Regional
Posted on: October 15, 2020, 01:03h.
Last updated on: October 15, 2020, 02:56h.
March Madness is going where it’s never gone before. On Wednesday, the NCAA announced that Las Vegas would host a men’s Division I college basketball regional in 2023.
The action will take place at the T-Mobile Arena, the MGM Resorts International multipurpose arena just off the Strip.
The NCAA’s decision to finally hold events in Sin City comes after the organization lifted its prohibition on holding championship events where legal sports betting in May 2019. That decision was largely made for the NCAA a year earlier when the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA and allowed more states to approve sports betting. That includes Indiana, where the NCAA is headquartered.
Dan Gavitt, the senior vice president of basketball for the NCAA, said the association has been interested in bringing the national tournament to Las Vegas for years.
The number of hotel rooms is enormous as we know of course,” he said. “Entertainment options outside of sports are, are plentiful, and transportation in and out of Las Vegas is very accessible from all over the country.”
Gavitt noted that Las Vegas getting a regional tournament, where Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games are played, is rare. Most first-time cities host first- and second-round games first before getting a chance to host the later rounds. However, he noted several college conferences, including the PAC-12 which uses T-Mobile Arena, hold their postseason tournaments there on an annual basis, so the NCAA wanted to give the city and the arena a week between events.
Vegas Already a March Madness Destination
While Las Vegas will finally get a chance to host tournament games, it’s not like the city hasn’t had a connection with March Madness before.
For years, thousands of sports fans have descended upon Vegas hotels and sportsbooks to watch the opening weekend slate of games. With 32 NCAA Tournament games on Thursday and Friday and another 16 on Saturday and Sunday, it’s a betting bonanza and a sports fan’s delight. Sportsbooks will show three or more games.
The 2020 NCAA Tournament would have been the first-year Las Vegas saw strong competition from other sports betting states in attracting fans to their casinos and sportsbooks. We’ll never know what would have happened, though, since the COVID-19 crisis wiped out the entire tournament for the first time.
For now, the 2020-21 college basketball season is set to take place, although COVID-19 is forcing some changes to the regular season calendar. Wednesday marked the first day teams could practice, and teams can start the regular season on Nov. 25, 15 days later than the originally planned start date of Nov. 10.
The first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament is scheduled to tip-off March 18.
Other NCAA Events on the Horizon
In announcing more than 450 tournament sites for upcoming years in all three of its divisions, the NCAA ended up awarding Las Vegas nine tournaments, including a 2023 men’s Division I golf regional at Bear’s Best and a 2024 women’s Division I golf regional at the Spanish Trail Country Club.
T-Mobile Arena also received the 2026 men’s Division I ice hockey championship, better known as the Frozen Four.
A Frozen Four, which typically attracts sellout crowds every year, in Las Vegas could become “the most sought-after ticket” in the event’s history, according to Jim Connelly, senior writer for USCHO.com.
Of course, there are bigger college events on the horizon, such as the men’s basketball Final Four and the College Football Playoff. Now that the NCAA has broken the ice with Vegas, it should just be a matter of time before Allegiant Stadium hosts one or both of those.
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