With winter soon turning to spring, the NCAA Men’s Final Four is just around the corner. This year, the four teams will vie for a spot in the Big Dance, with the University of Phoenix Stadium serving as the host.
Like many of its NFL counterparts, this Glendale, AZ facility fits the template of a Final Four venue. While accommodating the highly-attended Final Four games that could not fit into a standard arena, University of Phoenix Stadium offers many of the modern amenities found in today’s venues and has a track record of hosting major events.
This year’s Final Four, which tips off on April 1, is the first to be played at University of Phoenix Stadium. It will also usher in an intriguing mix of facilities that will host the Final Four over the coming years.
2018 Final Four—The Alamodome, San Antonio
Dates: March 31-April 2
Unlike some of its contemporaries on this list, The Alamodome has a long history with basketball. Aside from the fact that this will be its fourth turn at staging the Final Four, the venue served as the home of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs from 1993-2002.
For most Spurs games, the capacity of the 65,000-seat stadium was significantly reduced by placing curtains over many sections, but The Alamodome should be able to accommodate a large crowd for the Final Four. In addition, the facility is undergoing a series of renovations that should be completed later this year, including concourse upgrades, new LED video walls and ribbon boards, and other changes.
2019 Final Four—U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
Dates: April 6-8
Though it is just coming off its first season of hosting the Minnesota Vikings, U.S. Bank Stadium already has plenty of experience for major non-football events. Soccer friendlies and concerts have been among the notable attractions at the stadium, but the Final Four should be a particularly big event.
For the Final Four, U.S. Bank Stadium will be able to seat up to 72,000 fans. The stadium should also have some college basketball experience under its belt, albeit on a much smaller scale, as the University of Minnesota has discussed playing a game there during the 2017-18 season. This will mark the fourth Final Four to be played in the Minneapolis, and the first since the Metrodome hosted the event in 2001.
2020 Final Four—Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Dates: April 4-6
Merecedes-Benz Stadium has yet to open, but it already has some big games in its future. Along with the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, the facility will host Super Bowl LIII, which is scheduled for 2019.
Completing its trio of big events is the 2020 Final Four. Just as it is expected to for the National Championship and Super Bowl, Mercedes-Benz Stadium could be expanded beyond its standard NFL capacity of 71,000. This will be the fifth Final Four to be played in Atlanta, and the first since the Georgia Dome hosted it in 2013.
2021 Super Bowl—Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
Dates: April 3-5
For being a relatively young facility, Lucas Oil Stadium has an extensive history with the Final Four. Since opening in 2008, the stadium has taken two turns at staging the Final Four—first in 2010, followed by 2015.
The fact that the NCAA is headquartered in Indianapolis comes into play, as the Indianapolis Star noted in 2014 that a memorandum of understanding signed in 2004 “says the NCAA ‘will ensure that during any five-year period’ the city will host five of the group’s events, including the men’s Final Four.” In its previous turns, Lucas Oil Stadium has proven to be a solid host as its capacity can be extended from the standard 67,000 to accommodate more than 70,000 fans.