Friday February 17, 2012

THE ROAD STARTS HERE

March Madness will kick off with the inaugural First Four Festival-Dayton in the Oregon District on March 11.

The Road to the Final Four begins in Dayton with the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship First Four games March 13-14 at the University of Dayton Arena. As part of the festivities around the event, the Dayton Local Organizing Committee for the First Four is organizing the inaugural NCAA First Four Festival–Dayton on March 11 in Dayton’s Historic Oregon District.

"We are excited to be working with the NCAA, and we expect the events to garner much more positive, national attention for our community," said Dayton City Commissioner Nan Whaley.

"The University of Dayton Arena is one of the most respected venues in all of college basketball, and we look forward to kicking off March Madness with a huge Selection Sunday celebration," said Greg Shaheen, NCAA interim executive vice president of championships and alliances.

The University of Dayton has hosted the start of the Division I men’s basketball championship each year since 2001, having hosted a single opening-round game from 2001-10. After the tournament expanded prior to the 2011 championship, Dayton was selected to host the inaugural First Four, consisting of four first-round games played over two days.

The University of Dayton Arena, which has hosted more NCAA Division I men’s tournament games than any other arena in the country, will host the First Four next month and again in 2013, when it also will host second- and third-round games of the championship. Local fans have helped the University of Dayton regularly rank among the top 30 nationally in Division I men’s basketball attendance.

"We are thrilled to be part of the First Four experience and the positive economic impact it will bring to our region," said Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge.

On Selection Sunday, thousands will flock to Dayton’s Historic Oregon District for the NCAA First Four Festival–Dayton to kick off the Division I men’s basketball championship. This all-day, free event begins at noon and will feature family activities, a First-4-Miler fun run, food, beverages, large-screen televisions for watching conference tournament championship games leading up to the selection show, live music and educational displays featuring the latest in Air Force technology. The region is the birthplace of aviation and is the home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The weather won't impact the festivities. Oregon District businesses will be open, and heated tents will be available. "Participating with the NCAA during the First Four allows the Air Force to communicate the unique contributions we bring to national security," said Lieutenant General Thomas J. Owen, commander of the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. "It is one of our top priorities to maintain a presence at community events throughout the country and highlight the tremendous work of our airmen."

First Four game tickets can be purchased at www.NCAA.com/mbbtickets or www.daytonflyers.com or call TicketMaster at 1-800-745-3000. Learn more about the NCAA First Four Festival–Dayton at www.NCAA.com/firstfourdayton.