The NCAA is shaking up the March Madness 2021 lineup by shifting mens basketball tournament games from regional locations to the greater Indianapolis area pending further discussions, signaling that few fans are expected to attend games.
A deal to play games at Indianapolis venues, ranging from Lucas Oil Stadium and Bankers Life Fieldhouse to smaller college venues like Hinkle Fieldhouse and Nicoson Hall to larger high-school gyms to six convention-center ballrooms, has yet to be finalized. But given the NCAA’s roots in Indianapolis and the ability to hold large events like an NCAA tourney, it’s hard to see how the event won’t be held in Indianapolis, unless another city ends up with a significantly sweeter bid. And given that high-school gyms and convention-center ballrooms are part of the discussion, it will be interesting to see how many fans–past staff and parents–will be allowed to attend games, especially if the players and coaching staffs will basically be operating within a bubble. March is a long ways away, of course.
“My committee colleagues and I did not come lightly to the difficult decision to relocate the preliminary rounds of the 2021 tournament, as we understand the disappointment 13 communities will feel to miss out on being part of March Madness next year,” said Mitch Barnhart, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and University of Kentucky athletics director. “With the University of Kentucky slated to host first- and second-round games in March, this is something that directly impacts our school and community, so we certainly share in their regret. The committee and staff deeply appreciate the efforts of all the host institutions and conferences, and we look forward to bringing the tournament back to the impacted sites in future years.”
For the 13 communities slated to host March Madness 2021 games, many have been re-slotted in the 2024-2026 tournament site location.