INDIANAPOLIS — March Madness is coming to Indiana.
The entire 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament will be played at sites around the state, the NCAA announced Monday. The majority of the tournament will be played in Indianapolis, while some first-round games will be played on the campuses of Indiana and Purdue universities.
“This is a historic moment for NCAA members and the state of Indiana,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “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.”
Games will be played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The NCAA said only one game at a time will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Indianapolis was already scheduled to host the Final Four from April 3-5 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Selection Sunday is set for March 14, and dates for the rest of the tournament have not yet been scheduled. Evansville will host the NCAA Division II men's basketball tournament, while the Division III tournament will be played in Fort Wayne.
"Indiana was made for this moment," Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said.
The NCAA will work with a local health provider to administer COVID-19 testing for players, coaching staffs, administrators and officials. The Marion County Public Health Department approved the NCAA's medical plan for the tournament.
The decision to host the tournament in one location comes after the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled in March at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're not naive about how hard this is going to be," Emmert said. "The pandemic is still very much alive and it's going to be in March. The regular season is going to continue to be disrupted and it's going to be difficult. We owe this opportunity to provide a healthy, safe environment for the teams coming to Indy. My confidence is extremely high we're going to be able to get that done."
Ryan Vaughn, president of the Indiana Sports Corporation, said about 2,500 hotel rooms will be required to house the teams, officials, media and traveling personnel.
Officials have not yet determined if fans will be allowed to attend the games. Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball, said the NCAA is working with health officials to determine if crowds will include anyone beyond the family members of players and coaches.
"I have every confidence our city is up to the task of running these games in a safe and in a healthy environment," Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said.
Athletic directors react
The athletic directors at Butler, Indiana and Purdue released statements reacting to the news their schools' arenas would host tournament games.
Barry Collier, Butler
“Bringing all of March Madness to our great state and our great city in 2021 is yet another example of true partners coming together to showcase our community as the best place to host sporting events. Butler University is proud to be part of this community effort, and we are particularly excited for Hinkle Fieldhouse — one of basketball’s most iconic basketball venues – to host NCAA Tournament games for the first time in more than 80 years.”
Scott Dolson, Indiana
"We are honored to team with our friends at the NCAA in Indianapolis for the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this spring and host games at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. March Madness is the highlight event for all college basketball student-athletes and fans, and we are excited to welcome the tournament back to Bloomington for the first time since 1981. We are also appreciative of the extraordinary lengths that the NCAA is going to in an effort to protect the health and safety of students, coaches, fans and communities by bringing the event to one central location in Indianapolis. Congratulations and thank you to everyone involved in Indianapolis for coming together to find a way to ensure that this cherished college sporting event can happen safely this spring."
Mike Bobinski, Purdue
"We are excited to serve as a host site for the 2021 NCAA men's basketball championship and will work with the NCAA, the Indiana Sports Corporation, Purdue University and local officials to ensure a safe and positive experience for all participants that will compete in Mackey Arena. Mackey Arena is one of college basketball's great venues and we look forward to showcasing our facility in one of America's premier sporting events."
Watch the NCAA's announcement below: