The NCAA is considering moving all 67 March Madness games to Indianapolis. The organization hopes to consolidate venues to reduce risk during the pandemic.
The pandemic has caused NCAA officials to rethink how to run one of its highest revenue tournaments.
Last year, the organization canceled March Madness as part of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. The move was a financial hit to the organization, teams and communities hosting games.
Mitch Barnhart is the University of Kentucky athletic director and 2021 Tournament selection committee chair. He said after monitoring other sports and their championships, consolidating the 13 previously selected locations would help reduce risk.
“We felt like getting to one geographic location gave us the best opportunity to do that, for the safety, and the health of the participants, officials, and all of the workers that are putting that thing on just to have an opportunity to get a really, really special championship and crown a really, really special champion in 2021,” said Barnhart.
Indianapolis was already set to host the Final Four. Last season it was set to host the “Sweet Sixteen” and “Elite Eight” until the tournament was canceled.
NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said the city of Indianapolis – where the organization is also headquartered – has potential to host this season’s Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.
“We think that that may be our best option if we can work out all the important details around competition, venues, practice sites, hotel arrangements, medical resources that are all very available here in Indianapolis,” said Gavitt.
He said a lot of work still has to be done with state and local officials before any final announcement might be made.
Barnhart said he feels for the communities that had planned to host games this time around, but plans to give those other 12 sites future opportunities to host in the coming years.