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Miami gets March Madness


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March Madness heads back to South Florida

 

Miami will serve as a host city for the NCAA Tournament's first and second rounds in 2009. The games will be played in AmericanAirlines Arena.

BY SARAH ROTHSCHILD

srothschild@MiamiHerald.com

The NCAA men's basketball tournament will return to South Florida in 2009 after a 15-year absence.

 

The NCAA on Thursday awarded AmericanAirlines Arena first- and second-round games in 2009 that will be hosted by Florida International University.

 

Eight teams will play six games on March 19 and 21 or March 20 and 22. Two teams will advance from the bracket to the Sweet 16.

 

The last NCAA men's tournament games played here were the 1994 East Regional semifinals and final at Miami Arena.

 

FIU, the University of Miami, AmericanAirlines Arena, the Miami-Dade Sports Commission and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau collaborated on the bid. The NCAA reported it received applications from a record 56 cities for 22 available sites.

 

Mike Sophia, executive director of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission, said the initial projection of the direct economic impact for having first-weekend March Madness games is about $15 million. And that estimate, he said, is conservative.

 

''Everybody wins, especially our community,'' said FIU athletic director Rick Mello, who led the bid.

 

FIU and AmericanAirlines were unsuccessful in their 2004 application to land tournament games in 2007 and 2008. Neither UM nor the Sports Commission was part of that coalition two years ago.

 

Members of the selection committee visited AmericanAirlines Arena in 2004 but did not this year.

 

Although key players in securing tournament games for 2009 expressed satisfaction, all shared a desire to show the NCAA that Miami is a worthy host city for the future. The long-term goal is to host an NCAA Regional.

 

''This is the first step,'' said Mike Walker, executive vice president of Miami Heat group enterprises.

 

Added Sophia: ``Our goal now is to help the NCAA stage a successful event and keep Miami in the rotation so it's not [15] years before we have another opportunity to host the event.''

 

Jeanne Boyd, director of the NCAA men's basketball championship, said Miami has been on the selection committee's radar the past few years. Because of the volume of bids from the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference, Miami fell short in its initial attempt. But Boyd said the committee was impressed in 2004 and encouraged the group to apply again.

 

The allure of South Florida, including the hotel options, accessibility to airports and first-rate venue in AmericanAirlines Arena, made Miami an appealing choice, Boyd said.

 

''We think it's going to be a really good site for our tournament,'' she said. ``We're looking forward to building our relationship in Miami.''

 

The NCAA selected Detroit as the host of the 2009 Final Four. Other cities hosting games on the first weekend include Philadelphia; Dayton, Ohio; Greensboro, N.C.; Minneapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Spokane, Wash.; and Portland, Ore.

 

 

Its about damn time

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personally, rather than indy getting the final four every other year...or something like that...id love to see it in miami...miami basketball got a good boost from the heat...but the hurricanes need some help and big time college basketball games could help influence basketballers from florida to go to miami instead of the unc's, dukes, and other colleges

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I think the games in 1994 were very poorly attended, and that's why they haven't been back for 15 years.

 

They'll do a lot better this time around. College basketball has gotten much bigger in the state of Florida, and interest in March Madness has grown noticeably since 1994. UMiami was a laughingstock back then, and UF was far from a powerhouse.

 

It'll be quite some time before we get a Final Four, I think, but maybe some day we can get a regional.

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I never thought I'd see this happen. We're always a candidate but I guess people do notice that the only team that could ever make the tourney around here is a 5 hour drive away (if Miami ever makes it they wouldn't get to play in their home state) and every other tourney team is a long drive away. The first round games seem like road trip style games.

 

personally, rather than indy getting the final four every other year...or something like that...id love to see it in miami...miami basketball got a good boost from the heat...but the hurricanes need some help and big time college basketball games could help influence basketballers from florida to go to miami instead of the unc's, dukes, and other colleges

 

They'll never get a final four because they don't havea dome.

Every year they put these things in huge domed stadiums (football stadiums): Minneapolis, Atlanta, St. Louis, Indianapolis, New Orleans (?)...

There's a big difference than selling 60K and 22K.

 

However, every year I think one of the regional championships is in an arena. I know Continental Airlines in NJ got nit in like 2004.

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I never thought I'd see this happen. We're always a candidate but I guess people do notice that the only team that could ever make the tourney around here is a 5 hour drive away (if Miami ever makes it they wouldn't get to play in their home state) and every other tourney team is a long drive away. The first round games seem like road trip style games.

 

this is one of those things that you just knew had to happen eventually. and from what i can tell FIU is the host, so Miami could stay at home (if they ever make the tournament again)

 

i guess the NCAA finally realized its ridiculous to give bids to J-ville and Tampa, but not Miami. ncaa bball is poorly received everywhere in Florida, not just Miami

 

However, every year I think one of the regional championships is in an arena. I know Continental Airlines in NJ got nit in like 2004.

 

yeah but i dont think thats gonna happen here. the ncaa tends to put regionals in more central locations (ike DC, Atlanta, St Louis, etc) near powerhouse teams. We should just be happy we got this much from the NCAA

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