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St. Louis Loses Out In Bid To Host A Future Final Four Through 2021

A new stadium planned for downtown Los Angeles could have implications for the fate of the St. Louis Rams, who can break their lease on the Edward Jones Dome in 2014 unless upgrades are made.
via Wikimedia Commons
A new stadium planned for downtown Los Angeles could have implications for the fate of the St. Louis Rams, who can break their lease on the Edward Jones Dome in 2014 unless upgrades are made.

(Updated at 6:40 p.m., Fri., Nov. 14)

St. Louis was not selected on Friday as a host city for any future NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Final Four competition between 2017 and 2021.

Instead, the NCAA announced that competitors Phoenix, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Indianapolis will host, in that order.

Chris Roseman of the St. Louis Sports Commission was part of the team that represented St. Louis in the selection process. He said the group put together a “very sound bid,” but said "it wasn’t meant to be."

“I’ve never been more proud of a city to come together," he said. "I mean the timing was so right for St. Louis to get it in 2017 and 2018, especially with the $5 billion investment in downtown St. Louis, with CityArchRiver coming online, and Union Station’s revitalization, and Ballpark Village. There was so much momentum going into this bid process.”

When asked by a reporter whether the situation in Ferguson had any impact on the NCAA's decision, Roseman said the association "never had a question or a concern about that." He said the city representatives will get feedback from the NCAA selecting committee soon on what they can do to improve their bid in the future.

In the meantime, St. Louis still has a chance to host a preliminary round of a future Final Four, between 2016 and 2018, at the Scottrade Center and the Edward Jones Dome. 

“We’re very hopeful that we will still be awarded a regional or preliminary round in the 2016 to 2018 cycle, and I think that we will still be a go-to city for an NCAA basketball event," said Doug Elgin of the Missouri Valley Conference. 

The NCAA will announce the preliminary round hosts at 11 a.m. on Monday.

Our previous story:

St. Louis is expected to learn this week whether it will host one of the future NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Final Four competitions between 2017 and 2020.

St. Louis representatives will make their final, in-person presentation to NCAA officials in Indianapolis on Tuesday. The city faces competition from seven other finalist cities: Atlanta, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, North Texas, Phoenix/Glendale and San Antonio.

St. Louis Sports Commission president Frank Viverito said being selected as a host city would "mean the world to us."

"It's the kind of thing that solidifies your place among the best sports host cities in the U.S.," he said. "It clearly brings 75,000, and probably more, visitors to the region and the economic impact of that can be anywhere from $50- to $80-million."

St. Louis last hosted a men's Final Four in 2005, but despite that experience, Viverito said St. Louis started the bid process as "long-shots." He said the city's biggest challenge is that its Edward Jones Dome and convention center aren't as new or as big as facilities in competing cities, nor does it have as many hotel rooms in its downtown.

But as the saying goes, for Viverito, it's all about location.

"We have everything needed for a Final Four within one-square mile of downtown, and many of the cities who have hosted recent Final Fours have a very spread-out community, which we think takes a little bit of the soul out of the event." Viverito said.

Viverito also notes that within that same area are some of the city's biggest attractions, including the City Museum, theatres, Ballpark Village, the "rebirth of Washington Avenue," and Arch grounds that are currently being renovated through the CityArchRiver project.

"So that's a great selling point: You can produce the event in a compact area that creates wonderful energy and wonderful excitement," he said. "And it’s a right size city for it, big enough to do it really well, but small enough that its absolutely the biggest show in town."

The NCAA committee making the decision will consider each city's competition venue, transportation and lodging, as well as each region's overall commitment to the event. And that's where Viverito said St. Louis' pitch will stand out, by focusing on those intangibles that add "a little bit of heart."

"We want to put St. Louis’ best foot forward, and one of the ways we do that is to bring together many of our region's young professionals to sell their vision for the future and to talk about our region's heart and...our region's ability to successfully host a Final Four," he said.

Viverito said the NCAA committee is expected to make a final decision by Friday.