The NCAA will make an announcement Friday about the 2021 women’s basketball tournament, capping off weeks of speculation that the entirety of the 63-game tournament could be held in the San Antonio area in March and early April.
In December, Jenny Carnes, vice president of San Antonio Sports, who is leading the talks with the NCAA, said she had a “great deal of confidence” that the entire tournament would take place in the area. The NCAA announced last month that all men’s basketball tournament games will be held within the state of Indiana, with the Final Four in Indianapolis, in order to minimize travel during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday afternoon, Carnes confirmed that the NCAA would be making an announcement but offered no additional information. Mayor Ron Nirenberg has said previously that the possibility of hosting dozens of games was “both exciting and a great opportunity for our local economy.”
Having the tournament in the area will position hotels and restaurants downtown for a windfall of tourism money, at a time when the downtown area has been battered by pandemic-related losses.
In normal years, first-round and second-round games are hosted by 16 teams across the country, whose winners then feed into regional matches. San Antonio had already been selected to host the Final Four at the Alamodome on April 2-4.
Cities like Albany and Austin were supposed to host preliminary games. But the pandemic put pressure on the NCAA to consolidate the entire tournament into one geographical area to limit travel and simplify logistics.