Tournament success prompts plans for regional bid

Saturday, March 19th 2005, 11:54 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Officials who helped bring the first two rounds of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament to Oklahoma City say they plan to submit bids to become a regional site in 2009 or 2010.

All Sports Association Executive Director Tim Brassfield met with NCAA officials Friday to discuss the possibility of the Ford Center becoming a regional site.

Brassfield said the All Sports Association formally would submit bids later this year.

``I think we have the opportunity to bid,'' Brassfield told The Oklahoman. ``The challenge is to get in line, let them know you're serious, then go do it.''

Oklahoma City has excelled the last four times it has hosted first- and second-round games.

Games at The Myriad in 1994 and 1998 were quick sellouts. The same goes for 2003 and this year when the Ford Center was the site.

``Oklahoma City has everything it takes to be a regional site,'' said NCAA media coordinator Bill Hancock, who has been heavily involved with the tournament site selection process since 1989. ``It's got the building, the hotels, the airport.''

One possible obstacle to Oklahoma City's becoming a regional site is the number of domed stadiums in the Midwest region. Domed stadiums in St. Louis, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, San Antonio and New Orleans seat 40,000 people or more.

``Those places probably have a bit of an advantage,'' Hancock said.

First- and second-round hosts must accommodate eight tournament teams. Regional sites host only four.

``I've always told the cities to bid for both rounds,'' Hancock said. ``Most of the time, buildings themselves prefer the first and second rounds. But for many cities, the prestige of hosting a regional is more important.''

Brassfield said, ``We love the eight teams coming in from the economic impact. But to have the 'Oklahoma City regional' flash for a year leading up to the tournament would be great for this city.

The NCAA's minimum capacity requirement for first- and second-round games is only 12,000 seats. That also is the minimum for regional sites, but facilities with much larger capacities generally are chosen.

The minimum capacity requirement for a Final Four host site is 40,000.

The unofficial capacity at the Ford Center is 18,567.