FORT WAYNE, Ind. - In announcements made by the NCAA Tuesday, April 18, 2017 the Manchester University Spartans were selected to host a total of four separate NCAA basketball championship events, starting in 2019, all taking place at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
Visit Fort Wayne and the Memorial Coliseum partnered with local institutions to submit a total of 25 bids during the summer of 2016, for events taking place from 2019 to 2022. The NCAA announced championship event hosts for all sports in all three divisions for all four years.
"We have great partners in Visit Fort Wayne and Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, together we look forward to hosting a first class event. Although only one team will win the Championship we hope all will leave Fort Wayne with memories for a lifetime," said Rick Espeset, Director of Athletics at Manchester.
Manchester University was selected to host the men's basketball Division III Final Four in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. Dates are March 15-16 (2019); March 18-19 (2020); March 19-20 (2021); and March 20-21 (2022). The successful bid process concluded a 23-year stay in Salem, Virginia, at the end of 2017-18.
Earlier this week, prominent buildings in downtown Fort Wayne changed their night lights to "NCAA Blue" as a part of a "Paint the Town Blue Campaign." Visit Fort Wayne initiated this campaign to stir up the rich basketball history that resides not only in the state of Indiana, but in Fort Wayne itself.
"Monday marked the start of the March to Fort Wayne, and we are excited to welcome the Final Four teams on March 15 & 16 at the Memorial Coliseum! We wish all of the teams the best of luck, and we can't wait to Be a Part of Your Championship," added Jessa Campbell, Marketing and Communications Coordinator of Vist Fort Wayne.
The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference automatic qualifier, Hanover College, will look to make their March to Fort Wayne. During the 2016-17 season, the Panthers made an Elite Eight appearance and has received the conference's AQ three consecutive years. Hanover will travel to Wooster, Ohio to face Wheaton (Ill.) on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament.
The last time the Division III men's basketball Final Four wasn't in Salem was 1995, a year Manchester University fans remember well as the Spartans, under the guidance of former head coach Steve Alford, made their memorable run to the national championship game in Buffalo, N.Y. Visit Fort Wayne estimates that the economic impact for the local community will be $575,000 for each of the four years that the event was awarded to Fort Wayne.