Tampa, FL — The University of South Florida will join the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and the St. Pete Times Forum in hosting an NCAA Men’s Basketball First & Second Round event at March 21-23, 2008. It marks the sixth time USF has hosted a round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship and the second in the St. Pete Times Forum. The economic impact of the tournament is anticipated at between $15-$20 million. USF, the Sports Commission and the St. Pete Times Forum will also host the 2008 NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Rob Higgins, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission commented, “What better place for an NCAA Championship event than our championship city? This exciting announcement is a real testament to the community leadership of the Tampa Bay Lightning and their staff, our tremendous host institution in USF, and the enthusiastic support of our local officials and business leaders. We all should be very proud of this great achievement for Team Tampa Bay.” The Tampa Bay Sports Commission is a division of the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Ron Campbell, President of the Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum says, “We are once again ecstatic to be chosen as the host venue for an event of this magnitude. I believe we have proven – through our hosting of the 2003 NCAA Men’s Basketball.”
Regional – that we can work with the University of South Florida, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and the NCAA to produce a first-class event. As the host site of the 2007 Men’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, a 2008 NCAA Men’s First and Second Round and the 2008 NCAA Women’s Final Four, our community and the St. Pete Times Forum continue to host some of the nation’s biggest events.”
“The USF-Tampa Bay Sports Commission-St. Pete Times Forum partnership has become a truly formidable community team,” says USF director of athletics Doug Woolard. “Receiving an event like this only occurs through a dedication to teamwork from so many people throughout the community. The Tampa Bay community can be very proud of the hard-working people with the Sports Commission, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum.
“At USF, we take pride in knowing the NCAA has displayed its confidence in us by placing us in the regular rotation to host part of its marquee event, the men’s basketball championship. That and our pending move into the BIG EAST Conference are two powerful indicators of USF’s place in intercollegiate athletics. The work that went into getting this event occurred before I arrived at USF. But I assure you of my pledge to build on what is already an obviously strong sense of teamwork in this community.”
USF first hosted an NCAA preliminary round in 1983 when the tournament field was still at 48 teams. That year, USF hosted in its on-campus Sun Dome. USF also hosted the 1994 first and second rounds, a 1998 Regional and the 1999 Final Four at Tropicana Field. In 2003, USF joined the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and the St. Pete Times Forum in hosting a first and second round.