The Women’s Final Four will have a familiar feel to it for the next few years.
The NCAA on Monday chose San Antonio, Minneapolis, Dallas and Cleveland to host the event from 2021 through 2024. All four cities have hosted before.
The next two sites were determined a few years ago, with Tampa Bay hosting in 2019 and New Orleans in 2020. San Antonio will hold it in 2021, followed by Minneapolis, Dallas and Cleveland.
This will be the third time that San Antonio has hosted the Women’s Final Four. The all-time attendance record was set there in 2002, with 29,619 people attending the national semifinals of the Women’s NCAA Tournament. The Final Four returned to the city in 2010. UConn won the championship both years. The event again will be held in the Alamodome.
“The committee felt that the venue provides unique opportunities for the growth of the game,” Women’s Basketball Committee Chairwoman Rhonda Bennett said. “While we know there could be an adjustment by the participating teams in depth perception because of playing in a dome, we still felt that San Antonio has been and will be a great host city for our event.”
All the other Final Fours will be held in NBA arenas.
Minneapolis has hosted once before, in 1995, when UConn also was the champion. Since then, the Minnesota Lynx have won four WNBA titles and grown the women’s basketball fan base in the state.
“I’m proud that Minneapolis was awarded because we worked really hard, even before the Lynx were great,” Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Lindsay (Whalen) can attest to that during her time at the U. It’s a community that supports women’s sports. We’ve had the Final Four there before and I can remember it being one of my favorite Final Fours.”
The NCAA committee was in Minnesota for the WNBA All-Star Game this past year and saw how strong the women’s basketball fan base is.
“The way we hosted the All-Star Game showed the committee so much,” Reeve said. “We’ll put on a great show. We have everything at the Target Center, whether it’s the team side of things or the fan experience.”
The Final Four in Dallas two years ago was highlighted by the biggest upset in the history of the tournament when UConn saw its 111-game winning streak end on a last-second shot by Morgan William of Mississippi State.
Cleveland hosted the 2007 Final Four, which was the second-to-last title for the late Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.
The last two championship games have been sellouts.
Other finalists as host cities were Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Missouri; and Nashville, Tennessee.
“The committee appreciates all of the cities that were involved in the bid process and are thrilled to announce the additions of great hosting communities in San Antonio, Minneapolis, Dallas and Cleveland to the Women’s Final Four family of future hosts,” Bennett said. “When we crown a national champion in those cities in the years to come, we know our student-athletes, teams and fans will have enjoyed an amazing championship experience.”