St. Louis awarded eight NCAA championship events

Special to the News-DemocratDecember 11, 2013 

ST. LOUIS - An intense multi-event bid process culminated Wednesday with the announcement that St. Louis will host eight NCAA championships between 2015 and 2018.

Events awarded to St. Louis include the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, Division II Wrestling Championships, Women's Gymnastics Championships, Women's Ice Hockey Frozen Four, and the Women's Bowling Championship.

The NCAA is conducting a separate bid process for postseason basketball events, so site selections for the Men's Final Four and preliminary rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament won't occur until late 2014.

St. Louis' successful championship bids were prepared by the St. Louis Sports Commission in collaboration with its university and venue partners.

Of great significance from today's site selections is NCAA Wrestling's return to the Gateway City in a big way. The Division I Wrestling Championships will take place at Scottrade Center in 2015 and 2017.

Having hosted the event six times since 2000, St. Louis has become a favorite destination for college wrestling fans, coaches and competitors.

St. Louis set the tournament's total attendance record in 2012. The event is one of the most lucrative college championships for a host community as more than 90 percent of the fans in attendance are visitors to St. Louis.

Additionally, the NCAA selected St. Louis to host the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships for the first time. The Sports Commission will partner with Maryville University to produce the event at Chaifetz Arena on the campus of St. Louis University.

Maryville's emerging wrestling program and its accomplished coach Mike Denney were catalysts for St. Louis pursuing and securing the event. After the program produced Maryville's first Division II national champion last spring, the Saints should be positioned to be in the mix for a team national title when they host the tournament in 2015.

Three other championships will make their debut in St. Louis:

* The NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships will take place at SLU's Chaifetz Arena in 2017 and 2018. The University of Missouri serves as the host institution.

Having produced USA Gymnastics' national championships in 2012, the Sports Commission envisions the NCAA championships being part of a compelling niche the region is establishing hosting major gymnastics events.

The Sports Commission also is pursuing the SEC Gymnastics Championships and considering a bid for the Olympic Trials in 2016.

* Lindenwood University, the Family Arena and the Sports Commission will host the 2017 NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Frozen Four in St. Charles, Mo.

Lindenwood's transition into the NCAA opened the door for the Lions to enthusiastically pursue the Women's Frozen Four. It will be the school's first hosting opportunity as an NCAA member.

* Adding a new chapter to St. Louis' rich bowling history, Tropicana Bowling Lanes will be the site of the 2015 and 2018 NCAA Women's Bowling Championship. The University of Central Missouri serves as the host institution.

The diverse mix of championships awarded to St. Louis is a result of the Sports Commission addressing the NCAA's stated goal for city partners to host a variety of events and achieve increased efficiencies. Recently-approved amateur sports legislation in Missouri was a significant factor in St. Louis' successful bids.

"The awarding of these events to St. Louis is the product of tremendous collaboration and support from many partners, especially our academic institutions, sport venues and the state of Missouri," said Chris Roseman, the Sports Commission's vice president of events. "We look forward to producing eight outstanding championships, and we're excited about the impact these events will have on our region to energize our community, bring visitors to St. Louis, showcase the area, inspire young people and elevate our quality of life."

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