Nationwide Arena is no stranger to basketball games even though it is usually the home of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
The second time proved to be the charm for Ohio State as athletics department officials rejoiced Monday night to learn they will host the 2018 women’s basketball Final Four in Columbus.
The winning bid, submitted with the help of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission and numerous other individuals and groups throughout the city and central Ohio region, comes six years after a first try to bring one of the sports world’s premier events to Columbus was unsuccessful.
Representatives from Ohio State and the GCSC expressed confidence during the 18-month bidding process this time around they had been able to use that experience to better craft a convincing message for the NCAA women’s basketball committee. The addition of more hotel rooms downtown and the continued development of areas such as the "Short North" entertainment district also were viewed as positives by local officials, who showed committee members around town in September.
The 2018 women’s Final Four is slated for March 30-April 1 and will be held at Nationwide Arena. Dallas, Tampa and New Orleans were also awarded future women’s Final Fours from 2017-2020. The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s annual convention will be held in conjunction with the event along with the NCAA’s official fan festival.
Katie Smith, an Ohio State legend, three-time Olympic Gold Medal winner and the United States’ all-time leading scorer in women’s professional basketball history, was among those who helped the university and the city roll out the red carpet in late summer.
"I’m extremely excited for Columbus to host the Women’s Final Four," Smith said via a press release from the GCSC. "I can attest that this is a women’s basketball city and state, and we are excited to show how amazing Columbus is as a destination and how our community comes together to positively impact women and girls."
According to the GCSC, those events will bring approximately $18-20 million in spending to the area.
Ohio State has hosted first- and second-round games in both the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments over the past decade with some games played at Nationwide Arena and others at St. John Arena.
The Buckeyes’ lone women’s Final Four appearance came in 1993 when Smith was the national freshman of the year. They lost to a Sheryl Swoopes-led Texas Tech team in the championship game.
The current Buckeyes are 1-1 in the second season under head coach Kevin McGuff, who signed the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class a year ago. He was understandably excited to learn Ohio State will host the Final Four when those signees are seniors.
"This is an amazing city that will be an unbelievable host for the premier sporting event in women’s collegiate athletics," he said via a release. "People will be amazed by the energy and diversity of Columbus and this city will absolutely knock it out of the park that weekend."