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Omaha to host NCAA volleyball Final Four in 2022, men's basketball tournament in 2024
ATHLETICS

Omaha to host NCAA volleyball Final Four in 2022, men's basketball tournament in 2024

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NCAA

Omaha was the site of the 2018 Midwest Regional, featuring the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games.

The NCAA announced Wednesday the future host sites for several of its championship events, unveiling its plans to bring postseason basketball and volleyball back to the CHI Health Center.

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is coming to Omaha in 2024. The NCAA volleyball Final Four is slated to return in 2022.

There still hasn’t been an official decision released on the NCAA’s rescheduling plans for this season’s volleyball championship. Omaha was supposed to host the 2020 Final Four until the pandemic forced fall sports to move to the spring. The CHI Health Center could remain in place as the host venue, though.

Wednesday’s news was geared toward the NCAA’s future plans — an extensive reveal of a monthslong selection process across several sports.

Creighton Associate Athletic Director Kevin Sarver said that in January, CU and MECA officials submitted eight total bids within the NCAA’s four-year open window for the men’s basketball tournament. They inquired about hosting the first and second rounds and regional rounds each year from 2023 through 2026.

Ultimately, Omaha was awarded one of those bids — for 2024.

“We would have taken anything, at any time, for any year,” Sarver said. “But the competition for these sites is pretty fierce. So the fact that we were included in this bid cycle is the news of the day, not so much what we didn’t get.”

The 2024 event will mark the fifth time that CHI Health Center has hosted the NCAA tournament. The first and second rounds were there in 2008, 2012 and 2015. Omaha was the site of the 2018 Midwest Regional, featuring the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games. Omaha’s Civic Auditorium also hosted NCAA tournament action in 1977.

Omaha was supposed to hold the first and second rounds of the 2020 NCAA tournament last spring, but March Madness was canceled due to the pandemic.

“The disappointment of ’20 was tough to swallow — we went through a lot of work,” Sarver said. “But you’ve just got to keep plugging along.”

In addition to its hosting responsibilities for basketball, Creighton is also the host for the College World Series. That event will remain in Omaha at least through 2035.

The 2022 Final Four marks the fourth time Omaha has hosted the volleyball championship. The city also had the national title game in 2006, 2008 and 2015 — Nebraska won two of those.

“This is awesome news for Omaha, the state of Nebraska and volleyball fans across the country,” Nebraska coach John Cook said in a statement. “Omaha has served as a fantastic host in the past, and the way they’ve embraced this championship is unmatched by any other city in America.”

The volleyball Final Four site is now set for six years. It will head to Tampa in 2023, Louisville in 2024 and Kansas City in 2025. It was previously announced that the 2021 event will be in Columbus, Ohio.

Also part of the NCAA’s site unveiling: UNO will be the host school for the hockey tournament’s regional round in 2024 and 2026. Those games will be played in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

UNO hasn’t been an NCAA championship host since 2010, when the Division II wrestling championships were at Sapp Fieldhouse. Sioux Falls was the site of the 2018 West Regional.

“When we were approached by the (Sioux Falls Sports Authority) to partner with them on this bid, it was a no-brainer after watching how well the 2018 event was conducted,” UNO Associate Athletic Director Mike Kemp said in a statement. “The facility is a great place to host these games so our expectation is that it will be a very successful partnership.”

Omaha World-Herald: Local Sports

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