Basketball-centric Spokane was saddened by the loss of the 2020 NCAA Tournaments in March, slated for men’s games at the Spokane Arena and women’s games at Gonzaga if not for the nation’s coronavirus shutdown.
The Lilac City can take solace in its return.
The NCAA announced Wednesday that the Spokane Arena will host first- and second-round men’s NCAA Tournament games in 2024 and women’s regional games at the same venue in 2025.
The University of Idaho will be the host school for both tournaments.
“This announcement is especially sweet considering there were more than 3,000 bid submissions from cities and universities from across the country, vying to host 86 different NCAA sporting events for the years 2022-2026,” Spokane Sports Commission spokeswoman Dana Haynes said in a press release.
The Arena was already scheduled to host women’s NCAA Tournament regional games – otherwise known as the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight – in 2021 and 2022, also hosted by Idaho.
Idaho Athletic Director Terry Gawlik is happy her school will continue to host.
“The University of Idaho works as a team with the Spokane Arena and Spokane Sports, and together we’ve built a strong reputation with the NCAA,” Gawlik said in a news release. “We are honored they chose us once again to host such prestigious events.”
The cancellation of the tournaments was a major blow to the Spokane economy, an estimated $20 million loss, according to the Spokane Sports Commission.
Adding sting to the cancellations were the fates of local teams, as the second-ranked Gonzaga men (31-2), 13th-ranked Gonzaga women (28-3) and Big Sky Conference regular-season champion Eastern Washington men (23-9) not appearing in the tournaments.
Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena was also selected to be a regional site for the 2023 women’s basketball tournament and a first- and second-round site for the men’s basketball tournament in 2025.
Pullman’s Palouse Ridge Golf Course will be a regional site for the 2023 Division I women’s golf championships.
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