NCAA relocating 2021 March Madness tournament to one city

COVID-19, danger of traveling cited as reasons

Official March Madness 2020 tournament basketballs are seen in a store room at the CHI Health Center Arena, in Omaha, Neb., Monday, March 16, 2020. Omaha was to host a first and second round in the NCAA college basketball Division I tournament, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) (Nati Harnik, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The NCAA announced Monday that the entire 2021 tournament will most likely be in Indianapolis and its surrounding areas.

Usually, the beginning rounds of the tournament are hosted in different cities. Houston, for example, was set to host part of the Sweet 16 in 2020.

The 2021 early-round games were scheduled at 13 venues around the country. Regional rounds were set to be played in Memphis, Denver, Minneapolis, Tennessee, and New York City.

The move is a logical one. Indianapolis, which was already set to host host the 2021 Final Four, is also home to the NCAA headquarters.

Indianapolis and the surrounding areas also have more than enough venues. The Final Four is set to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Colts play.

Most likely, games in other rounds would be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers. Other venues could include historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, home of the Butler Bulldogs. Several Indiana high schools also have historically large basketball venues.

The decision, of course, is due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA wants a controlled environment with practice facilities, hotels, venues, and more in close quarters.

“The committee has made a really sound decision here, disappointing as it is to go away from our valued hosts for 13 different sites from First Four through the regionals,” NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt told NCAA.

“Condensing this to one geographic area that we can do it in a more safe and responsible way is where we need to be.”

“The committee and staff have thoughtfully monitored the pandemic to develop potential contingency plans,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA President. “The Board of Governors and my top priorities are to protect the health and well-being of college athletes while also maintaining their opportunity to compete at the highest level. These principles have guided the decision-making process as we continue to assess how to have a fair and safe championship experience.”

Read the full press release here.