New Orleans’ status as a prime attraction for major sports events has taken a beating this year.
Bids for a future Super Bowl and a College Football Playoff title game went to other cities.
But there’s another chance for redemption: landing an NCAA Men’s Final Four in either 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020.
Representatives from the New Orleans local organizing committee along with those from seven other finalists will make their final presentations to the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Committee on Wednesday and Thursday in Indianapolis.
The winners will be announced Friday.
New Orleans is also a finalist for a Women’s Final Four in the same time span as the men’s events. That announcement will be made Monday.
“We’re certainly aware of what occurred with the Super Bowl and playoff bids,” said Tulane Athletic Director Rick Dickson, whose school along with UNO would be co-hosts for both events. “There were different criteria and dynamics at play in those as opposed to this one.
“But it’s also many of the same players involved, too. It’s a competitive situation, and we feel very good about our chances.”
One of the Final Fours is expected to go to Indianapolis, which is in essence guaranteed one every four years as part of its agreement with the NCAA when it moved its headquarters from Kansas City several years ago. Since Indianapolis is the site of the 2016 Final Four, 2020 would be the logical year for that city.
Atlanta, Minneapolis, North Texas (Dallas), Phoenix/Glendale, San Antonio and St. Louis are the other finalists.
All but Phoenix/Glendale have been Final Four sites before. New Orleans has hosted five, most recently in 2012.
New Orleans’ original target year was 2017, the intent being that it would fall between the CFP title game in 2016 and the Super Bowl in 2018.
But when Minneapolis landed Super Bowl LII in 2018, it opened up that year along with 2019 and 2020 as possibilities, especially 2018, which is the New Orleans’ tricentennial year.
“We wanted to get it back as soon as possible,” Dickson said. “We still do.
“But we’d certainly welcome any opportunity.”
Along with Dickson and UNO Athletic Director Derek Morel, Saints/Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha and Reesa Hall of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation will be making the presentation for New Orleans.
“Having Dennis representing both of our major professional teams is a big plus for us,” Dickson said. “We’ve also added (Sun Belt Conference Commissioner) Karl Benson to our executive committee, and the Sugar Bowl is involved, as it was the last time.
“There are a lot of financial requirements involved, but we’ve met them. Our major emphasis is that New Orleans is a great event city with a unique ability to do a first class job.”
The other finalists for the Women’s Final Four are Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Houston; Nashville, Tennessee; Pittsburgh; and Tampa Bay, Florida.
New Orleans has been Women’s Final Four site three times, most recently in 2013.
The Women’s Final Four would be played in the Smoothie King Center.
“We feel good about this one, too,” Dickson said. “Everyone had a great time here last year, and the event is still fresh in their minds.”
But the big prize is the men’s event.
It’s the first time that Final Fours have been awarded since 2008, when the 2011-16 sites were decided. The NCAA cut the number of years to four this time.
And as Dickson said, the competition is strong.
Minneapolis had fallen out of the rotation for Final Fours, but with the opening of the Vikings’ new domed stadium in 2016, it’s now back in play. Minneapolis has already landed the 2018 Super Bowl, with the new stadium as the prime lure.
Also, San Antonio, a popular Final Four site, was passed over during the latest reward cycle because the Alamodome did not have the minimum 60,000 seats. That requirement has now been met.
Phoenix also will be considered attractive because University of Phoenix Stadium is the only suitable facility in the West.
But New Orleans has a secret weapon — Anthony Davis.
In the video portion of the presentation, Davis will point out that the Superdome worked out well for him when he played there — leading Kentucky to the 2012 NCAA championship — and that it would a great place to return to.
“Somebody must have read our game plan,” Dickson said. “AD is a great asset for us.”