By Frank Mastrandrea ’88
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee has
announced that Worcester has been selected to host the Division
I Men’s Basketball Championships—First & Second
Rounds on March 18 and 20, 2005. The bid to host the event
was submitted by SMG, the management company for Worcester’s
Centrum Centre, and Holy Cross.
“This is great for college basketball, it is great for Holy Cross, and
it is great for Worcester,” says Holy Cross Athletic Director Richard M.
Regan Jr. ’76. Aside from his duties at Holy Cross, Regan also serves on
the NCAA Division I Management Council, the body responsible for adopting operating
bylaws and rules to govern Division I athletics. “The NCAA had a very good
experience here in the early 1990s,” he says. “Obviously we’ve
made basketball a priority at Holy Cross, and we were able to convince them that
this market makes sense, and that Holy Cross would be more than capable to host
such a high-profile national event.”
Sandy L. Dunn, general manager of the Centrum Centre, summed up the dedication,
confidence and enthusiasm for hosting the event. “We are confident that
we will be able to provide the ultimate basketball experience for players, students,
coaches, media, tournament personnel and fans. The Centrum Centre and Holy Cross
bestow a sense of pride in hosting this event.”
The road to receiving the Championships has been a six-month process that began
in early June 2000, when SMG and Holy Cross initially submitted their bid. In
August, both parties received word that Worcester had been “short-listed,” and
that an NCAA representative would visit the city in early September to tour the
city, the facility and local hotel properties.
Among the NCAA’s criteria for venue consideration are overall event management,
set-up and functionality, seating capacity, media accommodations (including television
broadcasting), team and personnel hospitality space, food and beverage services
and telecommunication capabilities.
The NCAA representative on-site acknowledged that Worcester is a city on the
move and is succeeding, due to improvements made to the Worcester Regional Airport
which was recently taken over by Massport. In the bid to host the tournament,
hotel space, transportation and city services were also strongly considered.
No sporting or entertainment event in the building’s 19-year history has
received the level of national attention and local enthusiasm that the 1992 NCAA
Basketball Tournament received. The 1992 field of teams was indicative of the
kind of excitement an NCAA basketball tournament generates. The field featured
national powers Kentucky and Syracuse as well as regional favorites Massachusetts
and Princeton. UMass defeated Syracuse in overtime in the second-round game,
while Kentucky held off Iowa State in the other second round thriller.
Ticket purchasing information will be announced at a later date. For more information,
please visit the NCAA Web site at www.ncaa.org.