NCAA awards Final Four to Las Vegas for first time

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The Final Four is heading to Las Vegas for the first time, where NCAA Tournament betting has long been a staple of the March frenzy after the NCAA awarded the Allegiant Stadium men’s national semi-finals and championship game for the 2027-28 season.

The NCAA also announced Tuesday that Ford Field in Detroit will host the Final Four in 2027, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in 2029, and AT&T Stadium in Dallas in 2030.

“We are thrilled to be hosting the NCAA Major Championship in Las Vegas, a city that has hosted numerous championships for several member conferences for a number of years,” said Athletic Director Bradley Chris Reynolds, who chairs the NCAA selection committee. “Reviews from the leagues, their team fans and the media covering the events there have been overwhelmingly positive and we are confident we will get the same feedback.”

The national championship this season will be decided at NRG Stadium in Houston, while State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, Alamodom Stadium in San Antonio, and Lucas Oil Stadium have already been selected for the next three Final Fours.

The NCAA has long avoided holding major events in Las Vegas due to its reputation as the Mecca of gambling. But the stance has softened over the years, especially after sports betting became legal in states across the country and many leagues turned their glitzy arenas into the home of their post-season basketball tournaments.

Mountain West will play their championship game this season at Thomas & Mack Center, Pac-12 at T-Mobile Arena, West Coast Conference at Orleans Arena and WAC split between Michelob ULTRA Arena and Orleans Arena.

Las Vegas was already set to host nine other NCAA championships over the next four years, and the NCAA men’s tournament will be held there for the first time next March when the regional round is played at the T-Mobile Arena.

“We are delighted. It’s very exciting to have such a huge event in the city,” said Steve Hill, general manager of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “Vegas has been a basketball city for decades. At the time, we had an interesting journey with the NCAA. It’s great to be able to work with the NCAA to host our big event here and truly celebrate what basketball is all about in this city.”

Las Vegas, once a pariah of sports, has suddenly become a destination. The NHL’s Raiders and Golden Knights are playing in gleaming new arenas, the NFL was so successful with the Pro Bowl last season that it’s bringing back a revamped version in February, and Formula One is returning to the Las Vegas Strip for the first time. time since 1982 next summer.

The other Final Four venues chosen on Tuesday have already hosted the men’s basketball championships multiple times.

Ford Field was the venue for the 2009 tournament when 72,922 fans filled the Detroit Lions’ home to watch North Carolina beat Michigan State. AT&T Stadium will also get its second Final Four after hosting it in 2014 when Connecticut beat Kentucky in front of a crowd of 79,238 at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

Lucas Oil Stadium has hosted the Final Four six times over the past 25 years, including the 2021 event, when the entire NCAA Tournament was played in front of a limited number of fans at venues scattered across Indiana. When it hosts the Final Four in 2029, Indianapolis will play Kansas City the most times in a 10-man title game.

“There’s been a lot of talk about how coaches, players, fans and the media love coming to the Final Four in Indianapolis, but I don’t think you can overstate how much everyone enjoys their experience when they come,” Reynolds said. “People not only cheer for big events, but they don’t take anything for granted.”

AP Sports columnist Mark Anderson of Las Vegas contributed to this report.

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Source: sports.yahoo.com