Last night was a night of celebration for the city of Columbus who had just received word that they would host the 2018 NCAA Women’s Final Four!
The 2018 women’s Final Four is slated for March 30-April 1 and will be held at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus in the Arena District. 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.This was the second bid that Columbus submitted in hopes of hosting this major sporting event, and it seems the second time proved to be the charm. The bid was submitted with the help and support of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, Ohio State’s Athletic Department and many other individuals and groups throughout the city.
The addition of more hotel rooms in downtown Columbus 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 September visit included a flash-mob dance in a hotel lobby, a rally on Battelle Plaza and a walk-through of Nationwide Arena.
When the news broke at halftime of ESPN’s broadcast of the Baylor-Kentucky game many members of the GCSC and OSU’s Athletic Department were gathered together at The Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill in Grandview Yard. Mechelle Willis, the OSU deputy athletic director and a member of the GCSC, was wearing her final four shirt in anticipation.
“Oh, it’s awesome,” said Willis. “I had a good feeling. I thought that our team did a wonderful job of selling what Columbus has to offer.”
Columbus was one of seven cities being considered to host the Final Four between 2017 and 2020. Bruce Wimbish, of the GCSC, said the selection means thousands of hotel rooms rented, tens of thousands of meals eaten, millions of dollars for the city, and valuable national exposure. “It will be $18 to $20 million in visitor spending. It is the largest collegiate athletic women’s championship the NCAA has, and the largest one we can get for Columbus.”