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The Journal Gazette

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017 8:50 pm

NCAA events coming to Coliseum

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne is a complete package. At least the NCAA seems to think so, as the Summit City was chosen by the NCAA to play host to five tournament events between 2019-22, the association announced Monday.

The NCAA Division I women's basketball regional will be at Memorial Coliseum in 2020 with IPFW as the host school, and the Division III men's basketball championship in 2019-22 with Manchester with hosting duties.

"This day has been a long-time coming, and we're excited about this," Coliseum general manager Randy Brown said at a news conference. "It may be that we can say the start to this day began when we hosted a Notre Dame women's basketball game (in Dec. 2014). At the end of that game, coach (Muffet) McGraw made a statement, 'This would be a great place to host a women's NCAA tournament event.' "

Fort Wayne put in bids for more than 25 NCAA tournaments for volleyball, men's and women's basketball and wrestling. The entire process took about a year and a half and Visit Fort Wayne hired TSE Consulting to assist with the bidding process.

"Kudos go out to Nathan Dennison of the Coliseum and Stephanie Coleman of Visit Fort Wayne who worked for over seven months putting together the details (of the plan)," Visit Fort Wayne president Dan O'Connell said. "Often a bid for one tournament would be 25 pages long and we had to do that 25 times and put 25 dates and different hotel arrangements and practice facilities and student-athletic experience together."

After various site tours, inspections, meetings in Indianapolis and seminars, the NCAA deemed Fort Wayne worthy of hosting events once again.

"We have a state-of-the-art complex here with the Coliseum," Brown said. "We may be a 65-year old building but the bones, technology and all the things you don't see are amazing at this facility. The NCAA acknowledged that and the community.

"It goes beyond the financial elements. It's the support, Hoosier hospitality, the friendliness and the hotel community came out and was over the top convincing the NCAA and partners that this was the right place to award the events. It's not one thing, it's our package. In Fort Wayne and Allen County, we have a great package when we're selling our community."

The Coliseum played host to the Division III wrestling regional in February and the success of the Indiana-IPFW men's basketball game helped the bidding process, O'Connell said.

 

Based on numbers given to Visit Fort Wayne by the NCAA, the women's basketball regional is expected to draw approximately 7,000 visitors to the area, worth about $1.2 million.

The Division III basketball championship is expected to draw about 6,000 fans, worth about $575,000 per year.

"The level of excitement that the city is going to experience in 2020 to host the regional for women's basketball is amazing," IPFW women's basketball coach Niecee Nelson said. "I think the partnership between Mastodon athletics along with the Coliseum and Visit Fort Wayne as our hotel partners, this is an awesome opportunity to showcase what Fort Wayne really has to offer."

areichel@jg.net