NCAA to consider seven cities for future Final Four sites

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Seven cities are in consideration for five women’s Final Four sites, the NCAA announced on Friday.

Those cities will host the event from 2027 through 2031. Among the bids are two cities that haven’t hosted before: Portland, Oregon and Sacramento, California. Other cities bidding are Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Indianapolis, San Antonio and Tampa, Florida.

Dallas will host the event this year, with Cleveland taking the duties in 2024 as Tampa will host in 2025. Minneapolis hosted last year.

First-time host Phoenix will host in 2026. It’s the first time since 1999 that the Final Four has been hosted in the western United States.

Among the options presented to the Division I women’s basketball committee was a study which argued the benefits of scheduling the women’s Final Four to a different weekend than the men’s.

But on Friday, the committee announced that they will continue with the current scheduling model. The Final Four will also remain the same weekend as the men’s “for the foreseeable future.”

“In its current position on the sporting calendar, men’s and women’s college basketball are the focus of the entire sports world in March and early April,” committee chair Lisa Peterson of the Pac-12 said in a statement. “Continuing to leverage college basketball being the primary focus provides the greatest continued growth opportunities relative to exposure, fan engagement and access, and brand value.”

Much change has already been made to the tournament in the wake of an inequities report that changed the landscape of college basketball. The women’s tournament now features “March Madness” branding and was expanded to 68 teams.

Discussions have also been had about the tournament’s television rights, which are looped in with 28 other championships. Last year’s tournament featured increased viewership, with the championship game the most-viewed since 2004.