March Madness is coming to Indianapolis — all of it.
INDIANAPOLIS – March Madness is coming to Indianapolis. That is, all of it.
The men’s basketball committee announced Monday that the NCAA is in preliminary talks with the state of Indiana and city of Indianapolis to hold the entire 68-team national tournament in and around metro Indy. Indianapolis was already scheduled to hold the Final Four from April 3-5.
CBS Sports and Turner Sports will continue to distribute all 67 games of the tournament across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV, according to a news release.
The announcement said it became apparent that conducting the tournament at 13 sites spread around the country “would be very difficult to execute” during the pandemic. The bubbles executed by the NBA and WNBA were undoubtedly influential in the decision.
“We have learned so much from monitoring other successful sporting events in the last several months, and it became clear it’s not feasible to manage this complex championship in so many different states with the challenges presented by the pandemic,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball. “However, we are developing a solid plan to present a safe, responsible and fantastic March Madness tournament unlike any other we’ve experienced.”
The Indiana Sports Corp. had previously developed a plan for teams and conferences to play inside a bubble. Those games would have been played on courts at the Indiana Convention Center, and that would be an option for the NCAA tournament if no fans are allowed.
"Indianapolis has a reputation for hosting the most successful major sporting events in the country – including eight Final Fours," Mayor Joe Hogsett tweeted. "Our city also boasts some of the nation’s top public health professionals, whose expertise will be crucial in planning for a safe tournament."
Gavitt told reporters on a conference call the NCAA hopes to confirm Indianapolis as host city by Jan. 1.
"Preliminary discussions are solely with Indianapolis, but we do have other cities on a list to consider should it not materialize (with Indy) the way we hope it will."
If the bubble extends beyond Marion County, there are large arenas at Indiana University, Purdue, Ball State and Indiana State. Those arenas could accommodate physical distancing with some fans.
Besides the Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium, gym possibilities locally include Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Farmers Coliseum, University of Indianapolis and Marian University. Southport Fieldhouse is another, although the NCAA would not likely place games where there are high school students.
Butler released a statement in the name of athletic director Barry Collier and coach LaVall Jordan:
"The city’s track record of successfully hosting events and the way the entire community comes together in doing so is second to none. If called upon, Butler stands ready to support the NCAA, Indiana Sports Corp and so many other partners in hosting the NCAA Tournament in our hometown.”
The only time then-Butler Fieldhouse was used for the NCAA tournament was the 1940 East Regional, won by Indiana. The Hoosiers beat Kansas 60-42 for the national championship at Kansas City, Mo.
"We welcome this tremendous opportunity for our city and are confident that we could make this an incredible, and safe experience for all involved," said Indiana Sports Corp president Ryan Vaughn.
IndyStar columnist Gregg Doyel contributed to this story.
Contact IndyStar reporter David Woods at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.