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Columbus misses out on bid for Women's Final Four, lands 8 other NCAA championship events

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
The 2018 Women's Final Four in Columbus was among the most exciting in tournament history, highlighted by Arike Ogunbowale's winning shot to give Notre Dame the title against Mississippi State.

Columbus will host the first- and second-round games of the 2023 men's NCAA Tournament, but the city has been passed over in its bid to host the 2025 or 2026 Women's Final Four.

On Wednesday, the NCAA awarded cities with nearly 450 championship events. Columbus had submitted bids to host 53 events for the 2022-26 bidding cycle in February and it landed eight, including men's gymnastics in 2024 and men's volleyball in 2025, both at the Covelli Center.

“Certainly we’re excited about the opportunity to get some good news, that we’re hosting events in the future,” Greater Columbus Sports Commission executive director Linda Shetina Logan told The Dispatch. “That is exciting for our staff and the community for sure, that we see the light at the end of the tunnel."

But, she added, “I’m not going to hide that I’m disappointed about our efforts with the Women’s Final Four. That was the one cherry on top that we were looking forward to.”

In addition to the first-round men's basketball games to be held at Nationwide Arena and hosted by Ohio State, Columbus will host the following:

* Men's gymnastics championship at the Covelli Center in 2024

* Division III women's basketball semifinals and championship at the Capital Center Performance Arena in 2024

* Men's and women's fencing championships at French Field House in 2024

* Men's volleyball championship at the Covelli Center in 2025

* Division I women's golf regional at the OSU Scarlet Course in 2025

* Division I men's golf regional at the OSU Golf Club in 2026

* Men's and women's rifle championships at St. John Arena in 2026

In 2017, when the NCAA announced its hosts for events through the 2021-22 academic year, Columbus landed 12 events during the four-year span.

The city had been selected in January as one of four finalists to host the women's Final Four in either 2025 or 2026. Phoenix, Portland and Tampa were the other finalists. Final bids had to be submitted by April 13, and the submission process was conducted virtually due to the pandemic.

Logan said she received the news roughly 10 minutes before a 1 p.m. announcement because the NCAA recognized the collaborative effort that had gone into putting the bid together. The city will receive more feedback on the selection process in the coming weeks.

More: Find all our men's basketball coverage at BuckeyeXtra.com

One potentially complicating factor: Cleveland will host the event in 2024.

"I did ask that," Logan said. "I knew going in it was going to be a competitive process and the fact that Cleveland is hosting in 2024 made it a little more challenging for Columbus. However, we were very, very proud of our team and the package we put together."

The city will bid to host the event again, Logan said.

Columbus hosted the Women's Final Four, won by Notre Dame and featuring three other No.1 seeds in Connecticut, Louisville and Mississippi State, in 2018. The Fighting Irish won the title game 61-58 by pulling off the biggest comeback in the history of the game, rallying from 15 points down in the third quarter to win on an Arike Ogunbowale three-pointer at the buzzer.

The event was a success by a number of measures. The 8.5 market rating for the championship game broadcast in Columbus was the highest rating on record for the market. A record 773 media credentials were issued, 7.62 million viewers watched the games on ESPN and 3.4 million social media views were recorded.

The Final Four’s annual fan festival, dubbed Tourney Town, attracted 23,770 fans, the fourth-highest total in its history.

The 2020 Final Four was to be held in New Orleans but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. San Antonio will host in 2021, followed by Minneapolis, Dallas and Cleveland, which will host the event in 2024 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, home of the NBA’s Cavaliers.

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy