For the first time in more than 20 years, Hartford will play host to the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
UConn will be the host school for the two first-round doubleheaders will take place on Thursday, March 21, 2019, with a second-round doubleheader on Saturday, March 23, 2019.
“This is great news for sports fans in Hartford and all around Connecticut. As we all know, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship is one of the world’s premier sporting events and I am thrilled that it is coming to our home state. All of us at UConn are excited to be working with the XL Center on hosting a first-class tournament," UConn Director of Athletics David Benedict said in a statement on Tuesday.
The NCAA said it received more than 3,000 bid submissions from member schools and sports commissions, including the University of Connecticut, across all sports.
The NCAA said the criteria for selecting the cities included optimal facilities, ease of travel to the location and ample lodging.
“We want to thank everyone who submitted a bid for this cycle of championship site selections and for their continued commitment during the process,” Joni Comstock, NCAA senior vice president of championships said in a statement on Tuesday. “We look forward to working with our membership, the cities and local organizing committees who may host for the first time, as well as the groups who will repeat as host sites."
The return of the NCAA Tournament to Hartford is the first time in 21 years. UConn previous hosted tournament games at the XL Center in 1983, 1985, 1988, 1990 and 1998. There has been a total of 28 NCAA tournament games played in Hartford.
UConn, however, could not play in Hartford on March 21 and 23 if they make the NCAA Tournament because "teams are not allowed to play at sites where their institution is serving as a host."
Men's basketball was a boon for Hartford businesses this past March. The American Athletic Conference used the city and the XL Center for its conference tournament. The event helped pump in an estimated $7 million at hotels and other venues.
Mayor Luke Bronin said march madness in Hartford will also hopefully help the city attract other marquee events over the next several years.
"This a chance to showcase out capital city not only to the thousands of fans that are gonna watch the tournament but also to the millions of people who are watching the tournament across the country," Bronin said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the NCAA coming to Connecticut is "proof positive that our state and our capital city remain attractive destinations for large-scale events like this."
"Above all, this is exciting news for businesses who will benefit from the increased economic output that a tournament of this size will bring to the region," Malloy said in a statement on Tuesday.
The governor also stated that because of Tuesday's announcement the state needs to "ensure that the XL Center continues to function as a state-of-the-art, modernized facility well into the future."
“Hosting everything from concerts to conferences to major sporting events, the XL Center is an important regional economic driver, generating tax revenue, supporting the surrounding business district, and creating jobs for residents," Malloy said.
The following collegiate events will also be taking place in Connecticut this year:
“This is an exciting time for Hartford and the entire region. We look forward to working with UConn, the NCAA and everyone else involved. It’s a great opportunity for the city to once again host another prestigious event. It will be an exciting time in the city of Hartford," XL Center General Manager Chris Lawrence said in a statement on Tuesday.
Forbes estimated first round games generated nearly $4 million for the city of Providence and the Cleveland Sports Commission believes first round games in 2020 will bring in around $8 million for their city.
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