“This is a historic moment for NCAA members and the state of Indiana,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “We have worked tirelessly to reimagine a tournament structure that maintains our unique championship opportunity for college athletes. The reality of today’s announcement was possible thanks to the tremendous leadership of our membership, local authorities and staff.”
Six venues will host games: Lucas Oil Stadium, the NFL stadium where the Final Four was to be played; Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers; Hinkle Fieldhouse, the historic arena at Butler University; Indiana Farmers Coliseum at the state fairgrounds, a 6,500-seat venue where the IUPUI basketball teams play; Mackey Arena on Purdue University’s campus in West Lafayette, about 70 miles northwest of Indianapolis; and Assembly Hall at Indiana University in Bloomington, about 50 miles southwest of Indianapolis.
Lucas Oil Stadium will feature two courts, though only one game will be played at a time. The NCAA said the majority of the games will take place in Indianapolis proper. Teams will practice on multiple courts installed at the Indiana Convention Center.
The NCAA has partnered with a local health provider to administer on-site coronavirus tests. Most of the teams will stay at hotels that are connected to the convention center via skywalks, with each team housed on a dedicated floor. It’s not yet known whether fans will be allowed to attend games, though a “limited number” of players’ and coaches’ family members will be admitted to the stadiums.
Indianapolis has hosted the men’s Final Four seven times and was scheduled to do so again this season. The 12 other planned sites for the earlier rounds of this year’s tournament will be given a chance to host again in later years, the NCAA has said.
Selection Sunday is scheduled for March 14, though the NCAA said dates for preliminary round games have not been finalized. It hopes to play the Final Four games April 3 and the national championship game two days later.
“The 2021 version of March Madness will be one to remember, if for no other reason than the uniqueness of the event,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball. “With the direction of the men’s basketball committee, we are making the most of the circumstances the global pandemic has presented. We’re fortunate to have neighbors and partners in Indianapolis and surrounding communities who not only love the game of basketball as much as anyone else in the country but have a storied history when it comes to staging major sporting events.
“This is going to be complicated and difficult; there’s no question about that. We appreciate the collaboration among the men’s basketball committee and staff, our hosts and local organizers, the staffs at each practice and competition venue, and our broadcast and corporate partners. We will all pull together and stage a terrific national championship.”