New Orleans’ bid to host three major sporting events later this decade met with its third and final rejection in recent months Friday when the NCAA did not award the city the Men’s Final Four in 2017. Instead, it went to first-time host Phoenix.
Earlier this year, the NFL awarded the 2018 Super Bowl, for which local officials had made an intense effort tied to the city’s tricentennial, to Minneapolis. And the College Football Playoff title game for 2016 went to Phoenix.
That means that, for the first time since the pre-Super Bowl era, New Orleans does not have at least one of the three events on the calendar. The city has hosted five Final Fours, the latest in 2012, along with 10 Super Bowls and six college football title games.
While the focus of this bid was on 2017, New Orleans also was bidding for either the 2019 or 2020 Final Four. There was no bid for 2018 because of a large convention planned in the city at the same time.
San Antonio landed the 2018 event, with Minneapolis getting 2019 and Atlanta 2020. The NCAA men’s basketball committee also awarded the 2021 Final Four to Indianapolis, fulfilling the organization’s contractual agreement with that city.
New Orleans also is bidding for a Women’s Final Four for any of the four years. That announcement will be Monday.
Officials from the local organizing committee that spearheaded the bid effort — the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Saints and Pelicans along with Tulane and UNO, which would have served as co-hosts — did not make themselves available for comment Friday. Instead, they issued a statement:
“Although New Orleans was not selected as a host city for the 2017-2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four, we are proud to have been a strong competitor in the bid process. Given the history of the years New Orleans has hosted and the new level of competition from other bid cities, it is not uncommon for recent hosts to be excluded from the next cycle.
The previous three Final Fours in New Orleans (1993, 2003 and 2012) also were not awarded in consecutive cycles. The Final Four is a highly desirable event for New Orleans, and the city has secured itself as one of the premiere destinations for sporting events. We are confident that the Men’s Final Four will return to New Orleans in the future.”
But that will not be until 2022 at the earliest, and it likely will be another five years before any more future years are awarded.
Geography, new stadiums and that it had recently hosted a Final Four combined to work against New Orleans’ bid.
There hasn’t been a Final Four held west of Texas since the 1995 event at the now-demolished Kingdome in Seattle. But Phoenix was seen as an attractive site by the committee.
Minneapolis and Atlanta both had new stadiums to offer.
San Antonio, the 2018 site, had been a popular one, hosting three times from 1998 to 2008, but the city had to renovate the Alamodome to make it so.
Dallas and St. Louis were the other finalists.
New Orleans was seeking another Final Four only five years after its most recent one.