How Are March Madness Venues Chosen?

How Are March Madness Venues Chosen

Every spring, college basketball fans have only one thing on their minds: March Madness. This 68-team tournament features the best of the best from the NCAA’s Division I programs facing off against each other to determine the National Champion. Because March Madness is such a massive yearly event, the NCAA has a number of procedures they follow in order to organize the tournament games, including a process of deciding where the games will be hosted. What is this process for how March Madness venues are decided? Below, we will take a look.

How Many Venues Host March Madness Games?

The March Madness Tournament is hosted in a variety of venues across the United States, but only a select number of stadiums can host games each year. The total number of unique venues that host March Madness each year is 14, broken down in the following manner:

  • One stadium hosts the “First Four,” a play-in round before the start of the tournament. This stadium is typically the UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio.
  • Eight stadiums host the First and Second-Round games in the tournament.
  • Four stadiums host the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games.
  • One stadium hosts the Final Four games, culminating in the National Championship.

How Does the NCAA Choose March Madness Venues?

The NCAA has a rigorous process for selecting March Madness venues, with individual cities being allowed to apply and bid for inclusion in the tournament. Similarly to other major tournaments and sporting events, like the Olympic Games, cities who want to host March Madness games must make their bids many years in advance. Additionally, cities must provide the NCAA with various details about their prospective hosting, such as a budget, breakdowns and diagrams of their facilities, and plans for safety and security.

After cities make their bids, the NCAA considers the applicants a few years before the tournament they have applied for. Major factors in the cities ultimately selected include the quality of their basketball facilities, their accommodations for teams and fans, how likely the city is to draw fans, and the potential revenue the city can draw in. The NCAA also considers factors such as the community’s interest in the tournament and geographic location. One of the basic qualifications necessary in terms of the facilities is that stadiums in a prospective city must seat at least 10,000 people for early rounds and at least 60,000 for the Final Four.

Cities must be aware not only of how to handle players and teams coming to town, but also large amounts of media and fan presence, which can do everything from increasing traffic on roadways to shutting down parts of the city for the duration of the tournament. Estimates indicate, for example, that a city must have at least 10,000 available hotel rooms in order to host the Final Four. Cities with large airports that feature daily arrivals and departures from across the country are also preferred. However, regardless of the inconvenience, the potential benefits of hosting March Madness are massive, as being a host city often comes with incredible amounts of income and revenue.

Oftentimes, when a city is applying for a sport in the March Madness Tournament, especially the Final Four, the NCAA will require them to have a “dry run” if they are selected by having them host an early round of the tournament in the year before the date they were selected to host.

What Are the Venues for March Madness This Year?

For the upcoming 2023 March Madness tournament, venues for each round of the tournament are as follows:

March 14-15First FourUD Arena (Dayton, OH)
March 16 & 18First and Second RoundsLegacy Arena (Birmingham, AL)
March 16 & 18First and Second RoundsWells Fargo Arena (Des Moines, IA)
March 16 & 18First and Second RoundsAmway Center (Orlando, FL)
March 16 & 18First and Second RoundsGolden 1 Center (Sacramento, CA)
March 17 & 19First and Second RoundsMVP Arena (Albany, NY)
March 17 & 19First and Second RoundsNationwide Arena (Columbus, OH)
March 17 & 19First and Second RoundsBall Arena (Denver, CO)
March 17 & 19First and Second RoundsGreensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, NC)
March 23 & 25West Regional SemifinalsT-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas, NV)
March 23 & 25East Regional SemifinalsMadison Square Garden (New York, NY)
March 24 & 26Midwest Regional SemifinalsT-Mobile Center (Kansas City, MO)
March 24 & 26South Regional SemifinalsKFC Yum! Center (Louisville, KY)
April 1 & 3Final FourNRG Stadium (Houston, TX)


Which cities have hosted March Madness the most?

Many cities have hosted March Madness multiple times, but the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio has hosted the most March Madness games. The UD Arena has hosted 125 March Madness games as of 2022, and is currently the location where the First Four play-in round is held every year to kick off the tournament.

Why do cities want to host March Madness?

There are many reasons why cities want to host March Madness games, but the biggest reasons are economic in nature. Since March Madness is such a lucrative event, the tournament can bring millions of dollars in revenue to a host city, and will also increase tourism and potential future prospects for the location in other sports. The simple reality of bringing thousands of players, coaches, reporters, and fans to a city undoubtedly causes a major economic boost.