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St. Louis Will Host NCAA Women's Final Four in 2009

By B. Raack, KWMU

St. Louis, Mo. – St. Louis will host the Women's 'Final Four' college basketball championship tournament in 2009.

The final two rounds of that year's championship bracket will be played at the Edward Jones Dome.

The NCAA's Chair of the Women's Basketball Committee, Cheryl Marra, says St. Louis' successful hosting of the Final Four tournament in 2001 at the Savvis Center was a big factor in the selection.

"They have certainly proven leadership within the organization to give us a great amount of confidence to go back. They have a great facility," Marra said. "Looking at a dome this time, for the first time, allows us quite a bite of flexibility to decide where the game has grown by the time 2009 come around as to how large we want to make that."

St. Louis was also a finalist for another men's Final Four in the years 2008 through 2011, but was not selected. It was, however, told it would host a first or second round in the men's tourney in 2007, 2008, or both years. St. Louis had earlier been awarded the men's Final Four in 2005.

Doug Elgin, who chaired the local effort to win a tournament and who is also the commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference, says the selection for a women's Final Four means St. Louis is established as a regular college basketball destination.

"I would certainly place St. Louis in a very select group of cities that would include San Antonio and Indianapolis; cities that are most frequented by the NCAA for tournament basketball," Elgin said.

Tuesday's announcement means St. Louis will host more NCAA basketball events in the next six years than any other city.

It came just days after the city was named to host the 2007 Frozen Four, college's hockey championship. Frank Viverito, with the St. Louis Sports Commission, calls the past week unprecedented.

"It's thousands of hotel nights, it's millions of dollars, and it's more in tangible benefits than we can possibly count," Viverito said. "On Saturday at the Frozen Four news conference, we said the Best Sports City just got better. Now on Tuesday, we're here to tell you the Best Sports City just got better than that."

Future NCAA Final Four Sites
2004 New Orleans San Antonio
2005 Indianapolis St. Louis
2006 Boston Indianapolis
2007 Cleveland Atlanta
2008 Tampa San Antonio
2009 St. Louis Detroit
2010 San Antonio Indianapolis
2011 (To Be Determined) Houston