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LCA lands 2024 NCAA Tournament regional, misses out on Frozen Four makeup

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
LCA will host the 2024 regionals of the men's basketball NCAA Tournament.

Detroit — In what could be a precursor to the city eventually hosting another Final Four, Little Caesars Arena will host a men's basketball regional during the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, along with more than 400 other future championship sites across all of its sports.

The Detroit Sports Commission submitted bids for 12 events over seven different sports, and landed multiple events but none bigger than the regional. All together, there were more than 3,000 bids submitted by cities throughout the country.

"It was a good day for Detroit," said Dave Beachnau, senior vice president of the Detroit Sports Commission. "The fact we were awarded a men's regional basketball tournament was a huge win for us. It seems Detroit has become a preferred venue for their men's basketball tournament.

"We're extremely excited about that."

An NCAA Tournament men's basketball regional — the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, or the final rounds before the Final Four — only has been held in Detroit once before, at Ford Field in 2008, the year before it hosted the national semifinals and championship game. In 2009, Michigan State lost to North Carolina in the championship game.

The DSC is cautiously hopeful the 2024 regional could lead to another Final Four at Ford Field.

Final Four sites are set through 2026: Indianapolis twice, New Orleans, Houston Phoenix and San Antonio.

"We certainly have aspirations to host another Final Four," Beachnau said. "I think we're poised, given the track that we're taking ... how far along the city has come with new hotel developments, restaurants and everything the attendees and visitors need from an amenities standpoint to have a great experience."

Before 2008, a regional was in Michigan four times: in 2000 at The Palace of Auburn Hills — where Michigan State won twice en route to a national championship — in 1988 and 1991 at the Pontiac Silverdome, and in 1963 at Jenison Fieldhouse in East Lansing.

NCAA FUTURE CHAMPIONSHIP SITES, 2023-26

LCA, which opened in September 2017, already is considered one of the premier sporting venues in the nation. It hosted first- and second-round games of the NCAA Tournament in 2018, and will again in 2021.

Oakland University and Detroit Mercy will share hosting responsibilities for the 2024 regional.

Among the other championship event awarded to the state of Michigan on Wednesday: the 2025 Division I men's gymnastics finals in Ann Arbor, 2024 Division I field hockey semifinals and finals in Ann Arbor, 2024 women's bowling finals in Allen Park, 2023 Division I men's golf regional in Bath, 2024 women's gymnastics regional in Ann Arbor, 2022 Division III men's and women's cross country finals in East Lansing, and the 2021-26 women's bowling regionals in Lansing.

The Detroit Sports Commission previously had secured the 2022 Division I men's wrestling championships at Little Caesars Arena, as well as the 2021 Division II women's golf championships and 2022 Division II men's golf championships at TPC Michigan in Dearborn.

It was scheduled to host the Frozen Four at LCA in April, but that was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the women's bowling and men's and women's fencing championships.

In a bit of a surprise, Detroit didn't get a Frozen Four to make up for the one it lost to COVID-19. The 2023-26 semifinals and finals sites are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and North Dakota.

"We're not a little disappointed, it was a great disappointment," Beachnau said. "Certainly there were no guarantees for any of those championships that were canceled this past spring, and I know some consideration was given to those host cities that had events canceled.

"As we kind of debrief on what was awarded and what wasn't, I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of what the ultimate decision was."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984