One Site NCAA Tournament Could Become a Thing Says Jim Nantz

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When I first heard about the entire NCAA Tournament being played in the Indianapolis/central Indiana region, I thought to myself, “hey there are some positives to this!” While the change to one site, instead of multiple, came about only because of COVID-19, the crisis has created an interesting opportunity.

The worst part of the NCAA Tournament, in normal years, is the travel component. That’s because, well, you know how neurotic and stubborn the airline industry is, as a whole. Changing your flight should be as easy as rescheduling a dentist appointment, but that’s not how it works. The airlines believe you’ve signed some kind of ironclad deal and breaking it requires a force of nature.

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This doesn’t gel with March Madness, at all, where you simply don’t know how long you’re going to be at the destination city. It’s all based on how well or poorly the team that you cover/follow does in the competition. They can make an early exit, and you’re still stuck there.

Then you have the scrambling to find a flight with only a few days lead time, for potentially three straight weeks/weekends, and you know what happens then- price extortion. The airlines know that these cities are hosting the games and hence they inflate their prices.

While a one city plan for March Madness doesn’t alleviate all the commuter headaches that accompany the tourney, it does get rid of some. And according to one of the main voices of March Madness, Jim Nantz, the one destination tourney idea is gaining traction.

Take a listen here, Nantz discusses the topic for the first four minutes:

He discusses the idea of taking the model we’ll see in Indianapolis this month, and applying it to the next two contracted Final Four sites- New Orleans and Houston.

What if we did it here in Chicago? Could we? Well, only if the NCAA let’s go of their dome only policy for the Final Four, as obviously, we do not have one. Basketball, in an ideal world, should never be played in a dome anyway- you can’t see anything for more than half the seats.

And we all know college hoops is meant to be played outdoors  on an aircraft carrier. (I kid, I kid)

An all-Chicago March Madness would probably have the following venues as part of the mix: the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, the UIC Pavilion (now known as Credit Union 1 Arena), AllState Arena (which is in truth aging badly), Loyola’s Gentile Center, Northwestern’s recently revamped Welsh-Ryan Arena, DePaul’s still fairly new Wintrust Arena, the United Center and Chicago State Arena

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Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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