|St. Louis, Omaha and Philadelphia to host 2008-2011 NCAA’s|
By John Fuller TheMat.com
The NCAA announced today the host cities for the 2008-2011 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships after a landmark bid process for the sport of wrestling through the NCAA.
The 2008-09 Championships will be hosted at the Savvis Center in St. Louis, Mo. In 2008, the event will be held March 20-22. In 2009, the event will be held March 19-21.
In 2010, the tournament will move to the new Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb., March 18-20. The 2011 Championships will take place at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pa., March 17-19.
St. Louis is the only city selected that has hosted previous wrestling championships, including the 2004 and 2005 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. The event has been held in Pennsylvania 10 times, but never in Philadelphia.
"St. Louis has set the standard. The feedback that we've gotten from fans, coaches and the athletes, with everything associated with the event including transportation throughout the city and proximity of hotels to arena, was very positive," former Chair of the NCAA Wrestling Committee Tom Bold stated.
Bold's term as the committee's chair ended on August 31, but he was heavily involved with the entire bid process.
The other two cities that were finalists for the event were Cleveland, Ohio and Des Moines, Iowa.
"All five finalists brought a lot to the table and it was a difficult decision," Bold said. "It may sound trivial, but there were some issues with Gund Arena as to where we were going to be able to conduct efficiently weigh-ins and medical checks."
Bold added that the number of seats was an issue with the new Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Approximately one year ago, the NCAA Wrestling Committee solicited bids for the 2008-2011 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. 15 cities placed bids to host the event for at least one of the four years, according to NCAA Assistant Director of Championships Randy Buhr.
Following the initial bids, the NCAA Wrestling Committee narrowed the bids to seven cities. The other two cities not in the finals were Columbus, Ohio and Denver, Colo. After site visits, Columbus and Denver were both eliminated.
"It really came down to venue specifications. They did not have the floor specifications we were looking for to host the championships," Bold said of Columbus and Denver.
After the five finalist cities were named, the NCAA Wrestling Committee made site visits to each of those five cities. It was the first time ever that the NCAA allocated funds to the wrestling committee to be able to make advance site visits during the bid process.
In April, the finalist cities made personal presentations to the NCAA Wrestling Committee in La Joya, Calif. Before the committee made recommendations to the NCAA Division I Championships Competition Cabinet, which approved the selections.
"It certainly was not any direction taken by the wrestling committee to not host the championships on a college campus," Bold said. "The cities involved made some great presentations. It was very difficult to make the final decision."
The last time the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships was held on a college campus was in 2001 in Iowa City, Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Also, the last time the tournament was held in an Eastern city was in 2002, when it was held in Albany, N.Y. at Pepsi Arena.
There was no discussion on moving the date of the championships. Currently, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships are to be held the third full weekend of March as defined by a Thursday through Saturday according to Buhr. Earlier this year, it was announced that the first-ever baseball World Cup will be held on the same weekend as the 2006 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, which is also held the same weekend as the first round of the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments.
"For the first time in the history of the championships last year, the NCAA received unprecedented coverage from the ESPN family of networks. We really only received positive feedback from ESPN and their affiliation with the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships," Buhr said.
"I would hope that the addition of other events would not have any bearing on the coverage of this great event," he added.
There was also discussion of moving the event to a permanent site, such as St. Louis, for the four-year cycle.
"It is certainly something that we looked at as a committee. All the cities in their bids were bidding for multiple years or all four years. At this point, I don't think we were ready to go there," Bold said.
However, both Buhr and Bold were confident that the possibility of a permanent host for this event will be looked at again during the next bid cycle.
The next bid cycle will take place during the 2008-09 academic year for the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships to be held during 2012-15.