Collegiate women's basketball will bring a bit more March Madness to Fort Wayne's Memorial Coliseum. And Coliseum officials couldn't be happier.
Public-admission tickets to the first-ever Division I NCAA women's regional championship games in Fort Wayne go on sale at 10 a.m. today.
The games will take place March 28 to 30, with regional winners moving on to the Sweet 16.
“It's the highest-level college basketball tournament that Fort Wayne has ever hosted,” said Nathan Dennison, the venue's vice president of sales. “It's a big deal.”
During a Coliseum board meeting Monday afternoon, Dennison said about 400 all-session tickets had already been sold for the event.
It's a testament to the growing popularity of the women's game, he said.
Dennison said Fort Wayne is the smallest of four markets hosting the women's regionals and that speaks well of the venue's quality.
The other cities are Dallas; Portland, Oregon; and Greenville, South Carolina.
The first two games will take place Saturday, March 28, with the regional championship game that Monday night. The winner of that game will go on to the Final Four in New Orleans.
The Coliseum also will host the Division III men's basketball National Championship on March 20 and 21.
This year's format will mean eight participating teams, Dennison said.
In other business, Randy Brown, Coliseum executive vice president and general manager, reported attendance at the facility is down 3.72% for the first nine months of the year. But he expects that will turn around in upcoming weeks.
This year's attendance was 830,137 from January through September, off 2018's attendance by 32,075.
However, use days, the number of days at least one space is in use, are up.
From January to September, the Coliseum registered 46 more use days – 1,261 – over the same period last year – an increase of 3.78%
In addition, the venue's economic impact this year is down 2.55%, or $2.05 million, from the first eight months of last year. The economic impact from January through August is $78.5 million.
Brown said the facility expects a strong lineup to make up the difference by the end of the year.
Several popular shows have been booked, including country music concerts by Luke Bryan and Chris Young and a live show with the characters from PAW Patrol, a children's cartoon.
“We need to sell some tickets, but ... we have a very strong fourth quarter coming up,” Brown said.