Tuesday March 14, 2006

NCAA Tournament Begins Tonight at UD Arena

Months of preparation go into providing a positive experience for players and fans. UD administrators encourage fans to arrive early. No coolers, backpacks, large purses, electronic devices, video cameras, food or beverages are allowed into the game.

When the NCAA tournament tips off tonight at University of Dayton Arena, fans will see the result of months of preparation by University administrators as well as the players.

"The whole process takes about a year," said Timothy J. O'Connell, associate director of athletics and executive director of the UD Arena and Sports Complex. "Since last Monday, we've had the pedal to the metal. A lot of effort, dedication and time are put into this. It's a privilege to have this at UD Arena."

University and tournament administrators encourage fans to be prepared, too. Security will be tighter than usual at UD Arena this week, so patrons are advised to arrive early.

"Since this is part of a national high-profile sporting event, security will be tighter. Fans are encouraged to adhere to the policies and arrive early," O'Connell said.

Patrons will not be allowed to bring coolers, backpacks, large purses, electronic devices, video cameras, food or beverages into the game.

All tickets for Friday and Sunday's first- and second-round games are sold out; however, tickets are still available for the opening round game today between Monmouth and Hampton. Tickets can be purchased through the UD Arena Ticket Office at (937) 229-4433.

In the meantime, UD officials have been working around the clock to transform UD Arena into an NCAA site. Between the last high school tournament game Saturday and Monday afternoon's practice sessions for Monmouth and Hampton, the floor and surrounding areas received an "NCAA look." Doug Hauschild, UD sports information director, expects more than 500 members of the media, including ESPN, the Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, and the Sporting News.

"We've hosted some portion of the NCAA tournament since 2001," O'Connell said. "We have this down. Our staff does a tremendous job."

UD has expanded its wireless access points and enhanced the quality of service for wireless and wired connections throughout the arena.

"We've made it into as wireless mecca for reporters, NCAA officials, coaches and teams," said Tom Skill, UD associate provost and chief information officer. "They will have access to real-time stats right at their fingertips."

When the 2006 NCAA tournament is finished, UD Arena will have hosted 72 NCAA men's basketball tournament games in 20 of the last 37 years. Only Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium (83) and the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City (81) have hosted more. All games in the first, second or regional rounds of the NCAA tournament at UD Arena have been sellouts — a testament to the support of Dayton's college basketball fans.

"We would like to thank the Dayton community for its support of the NCAA tournament," O'Connell said. "The first and second rounds (at UD Arena) have been sold out for six months and the decision for Dayton to host the opening round is directly because of the community's support."

For more information, visit UD's NCAA Tournament Central.

To arrange interviews, contact Shawn Robinson at (937) 229-3391 or Teri Rizvi at (937) 229-3255.