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BOSTON expected to host tourney in 2005, 2006 or 2007

Updated:
BOSTON (AP) _ Boston is ready to welcome the NCAA Division I women's basketball Final Four to the city in the near future.

Acting Gov. Jane M. Swift, a basketball player in high school, and Mayor Thomas M. Menino were scheduled to announce Monday morning the outcome of the city's bid to host the tourney in 2005, 2006 or 2007.

Monday's Indiana Star reported that Indianapolis was chosen to host the women's tournament in 2005. Athletic director John Parry of Butler, which along with the Horizon League will be institutional co-hosts, confirmed the decision, the Star reported.

An NCAA spokesman refused comment. The women's Final Four has been run by the NCAA since 1982.

Swift lobbied on behalf of Boston in a videotaped message to the NCAA selection committee meeting in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, last week, Swift spokeswoman Sarah Magazine said. Competing with Boston and Indianapolis were St. Louis, Phoenix and Cleveland.

The FleetCenter would be the venue, and Northeastern and Harvard would serve as host schools.

The U.S. Figure Skating Championships last January at the FleetCenter drew more than 125,000 spectators, breaking attendance records for the competition, and the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, held last August, attracted sellout crowds.

The lone NCAA basketball tournament competition held in Boston was a men's subregional in March 1999, and FleetCenter officials the event was a sellout four months after tickets were put on sale.

Tourism officials have estimated the semifinal games and the national championship game will produce as much as $25 million in visitor spending for the region.

Boston's nine-month effort to host the tournament was conducted by a committee that included the Massachusetts Sports Partnership, the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, the FleetCenter and the Boston ad agency Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos. About 10 area businesses _ including Gillette, Reebok, John Hancock and State Street Global Advisors _ pledged to underwrite the price of the 250-page bid.
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