Eight major U.S. cities are in the finals to host the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships between 2015-18, the NCAA announced Wednesday.
Along with some cities familiar to fans who’ve attended an NCAA mat championship in the past decade, there are some locations that have never hosted the nationals… or haven’t in a decade or more.
Among the first-time finalists: Madison Square Garden in New York City, and the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.
Cities that haven’t hosted the NCAAs in a number of years include Cleveland (host site for the 1998 NCAAs), Kansas City (2003) and Pittsburgh (1957).
NCAA host finalists which loyal fans may still have programmed into their GPS include Philadelphia (2011), St. Louis (2012), and Oklahoma City (2006, and the upcoming 2014 NCAAs).
A look at each of the finalists
There’s been a Madison Square Garden in the heart of Manhattan for over a century… yet the venerable arena has never hosted the NCAA wrestling championships. In fact, last December’s Grapple at the Garden was the first time a college wrestling event had taken place in the facility, which opened in 1968. Hofstra University would serve as host.
KFC Yum! Center, named for Yum! Brands, the conglomerate that owns KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken), Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Wing Street, which is headquartered in Kentucky’s largest city. Opened in 2010, the arena in downtown Louisville seats 22,500 fans. Event sponsor would be the Louisville Sports Commission; no major Div. I school in Kentucky has intercollegiate wrestling.
If Cleveland gets the nod, wrestling fans will visit Quicken Loan Arena in the heart of Ohio’s second-largest city. The city that’s home to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame last hosted the NCAAs in 1998, at another facility located on the Cleveland State campus. The Mid-American Conference would be the school-affiliated organization hosting the event.
Kansas City hosted the NCAA championships a decade ago, at Kemper Arena. Since then, a new arena — Sprint Center, located in the heart of the western Missouri city — has replaced that venue. University of Missouri would serve as host school.
The last time Pittsburgh hosted the NCAAs, cars had tailfins… Ike was in the White House… and color TV was brand-new. The 1957 NCAAs, held at Fitzgerald Field House at University of Pittsburgh, were historic for having the first African-American champ (Simon Roberts, University of Iowa). If the NCAA chooses the Three Rivers City, the championships will be held at CONSOL Energy Center downtown. According to the NCAA, host school would be West Virginia University.
Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center hosted the NCAAs in 2011. The bid was placed by Rider University and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
St. Louis’ Scottrade Center has been the site for the NCAA Div. I championships five times in the past decade. University of Missouri has offered to host the event.
Fans who attended the 2006 NCAAs in Oklahoma City will recognize the facility that hopes to host the 2015 championships. However, the downtown arena in Oklahoma’s capital city that was named Ford Center back then sports a new name: Chesapeake Energy Center, which will be site of the 2014 NCAAs. Host school will be Oklahoma State.
What makes a good host? Check out the 2005 InterMat feature “NCAA championships: Pick a city and stick with it?” that details the thought processes in selecting a host city.
It’s not just about wrestling: The NCAA announced finalists to host 81 of 89 sports. To see contenders to host other men’s and women’s sports, check out this PDF file.
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