Las Vegas Wins Bids for Major NCAA Events

Since the downfall of the ban on sports betting in 2018 the NCAA has ended its opposition to allowing major games to be played in Nevada.

As a result, the association NCAA tapped Las Vegas to host an NCAA Tournament men’s regional in 2023. This marks the first time the city served as a site for an NCAA championship round since 1991, when a women’s basketball regional played the Thomas & Mack Center.

The decision, announced by the NCAA on October 14, was one of 450 host sites named through 2026 for different sports. Nevada will host 11 events, including the 2026 men’s Frozen Four, according to the Associated Press.

A partnership between MGM Resorts International and the University of Nevada Las Vegas applied to host the 2023 and 2026 men’s basketball regionals as well as the NCAA wrestling championships. The gaming giant also joined with Las Vegas Events to solicit the 2023 and 2026 Frozen Fours hockey’s college championship, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The games expect to be played at T-Mobile Arena.

In addition, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority applied for multiple games from Division I to Division III between 2022 and 2026 to be held at various arenas.

“We were going to go for broke,” said Lisa Motley, LVCVA director of sports marketing and special events. “It was the first time we were able to put bids into the NCAA, and we’re serious about being the home for NCAA championships. We have to crawl, walk, run and prove to the NCAA that we can put on these marquee events.”

The NCAA basketball committee toured Las Vegas early this year, encouraging the resort to bid for a regional event rather than the initial rounds of competition.

The Final Four and College Football Playoff National Championship games rotate on a different cycle from the NCAA basketball and the earliest Las Vegas could play host would be the 2025 championship game and the 2027 Final Four.

Las Vegas Events president Pat Christenson said he has no doubt he could sell out a venue for either the wrestling or ice hockey championships. As for lesser-known events, the LVCVA turned in 98 applications, though that included multiple forms covering different years for the same event.

Motley said the NCAA suggested the city pitch Division II and III events in addition to Division I. Sports include golf, gymnastics, tennis, baseball, softball and soccer. UNLV helped with the bidding, she said.

“I think every event would assist us in better establishing people’s habits of coming back to Vegas,” Christenson said.

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