ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – This week’s announcement by the NCAA that the Men’s Final Four won’t be playing at AT&T Stadium in Arlington between 2023-2026 surprised North Texans and raised questions about what happened.
Instead, those games will be played in Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio and Indianapolis.
Monica Paul, Executive Director of the Dallas Sports Commission, which along with the Dallas Cowboys, led the team that submitted the bid.
Paul said, “Obviously, we’re disappointed.”
She said they thought they presented a very solid and competitive plan that addressed concerns by the NCAA after AT&T Stadium hosted the Men’s Final Four in 2014.
Paul said the NCAA men’s basketball committee told them the student athlete experience and fan engagement in downtown Dallas and Arlington needs to improve. “The student athlete experience starts from the minute they arrive in
Dallas and get off that plane. It can go anywhere from team welcomes to the first time they walk into AT&T Stadium.”
She added that they need to continue “To get a little bit creative, think outside the box and figure out what we can do for those student athletes and their families.”
One thing that may help is the new Texas Live! entertainment complex featuring restaurants, mechanical bulls, and music stages that will open August 9, and the new Loewe’s 300-room hotel that is set to open next year — both next to the stadiums.
Ron Price, the President & CEO of the Arlington Convention and Visitor Bureau issued a statement saying in part, “We are no stranger to hosting great events, so of course it is a disappointment when not chosen. However, the bid process considers many facets, and we work in collaboration with our North Texas regional partners to make sure every element of a bid is our competitive best.”
While AT&T Stadium attracted a record crowd for the first day of the NFL Draft this spring, it’s been awhile since it last hosted other top competitions in sports.
If you’re keeping score, we haven’t had the Super Bowl since 2011.
We haven’t had the NBA All-Star Game since 2010.
Paul said they will continue to be aggressive in pursuing other events to host in North Texas.
The Sports Commission she said is now focused on bringing the NCAA’s Women’s Final Four back to the American Airlines Center in Dallas between 2021 and 2024.
They’re also trying to lure the World Cup to North Texas in 2026.
The Dallas Cowboys and Arlington city leaders declined comment for our story.
Miguel Saavedra, manager and co-owner of the Bru City across from AT&T Stadium, says they opened in March right before the NFL Draft. “We picked this location because of the stadium, right? So I’m surprised we didn’t get to be host of these events.”
At Boomerjack’s Grill, right down the street from the stadium, Manager Nick Whatley says he’s not concerned about other big games going elsewhere. “I think it’s a great area, there’s plenty to do around here, plenty of hotels, a lot of attractions.”
But he is curious. “They need to find out what’s the draw to the other cities, mimic that or improve, do better to draw more attractions and events here.”