NCAA awards men's Final Four to San Antonio

San Antonio has been selected as the 2018 Host City for the Men's Final Four tournament. It will be played Alamodome, which is located downtown, near several hotels and attractions.

San Antonio has scored a major win. The NCAA has selected the Alamo City to host its prestigious men's Final Four basketball championship in 2018.

San Antonio was one of eight finalist cities — along with Atlanta, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, North Texas, Phoenix/Glendale and St. Louis — competing for the next round of Final Four tournaments up for bid in 2017-2020.

San Antonio hosted the men's Final Four in 1998, 2004 and 2008. However, the NCAA passed on the Alamo City in its last bid round.

Michael Sawaya, director of the City of San Antonio's Convention, Sports and Entertainment Facilities Department, which oversees the downtown dome, told me local leaders had "put together an exceptional bid."

Finalist cities made their last pitches this week. San Antonio's victory assures that the city will make significant improvements to the 21-year-old Alamodome. The city has committed to invest roughly $44 million in Alamodome improvements to meet Final Four facility requirements.

Phoenix will host the 2017 Final Four. Minneapolis and Atlanta will get the 2019 and 2020 Final Fours, respectively.

In an unexpected move, the NCAA has awarded the 2021 Final Four to Indianapolis.

Members of the NCAA men's basketball committee, including Utah State Athletic Director Scott Barnes, chairman of the group tasked with selecting Final Four sites, were in San Antonio in September. It was Barnes who announced the winning cities on Friday.

"The team here in San Antonio just did a wonderful job in presenting exactly what this city has to offer in all facets," Barnes said during his September visit. "Given what we've learned here (about planned Alamodome improvements), they've hit the mark."

I asked Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis, another member of the committee who was here in September, if NCAA officials were willing to look beyond the newer and bigger domed stadiums and reconsider older venues like the Alamodome for future Final Four tournaments.

"We are looking at this venue from the aspects of the student athletes first and foremost, fans that come in and then those operationally — media and others — who will have to be part of the event," Hollis said, noting that he was particularly impressed with the proximity of downtown hotels and attractions to the 65,000-seat Alamodome.

"There is an extreme value in being able to walk to the competition, to the events leading up to the games themselves," Hollis added.