The big news Oct. 14 was what Portland and the state lost out on: the chance to host a NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four.
Portland was one of four finalists to host the Women's Final Four in either 2025 or 2026. Based on the ticket sales and excitement surrounding the 2019 West Regional at Moda Center, advance sales of tickets for the 2020 regional that was canceled because of COVID-19 and the overall enthusiasm for women's basketball in the region, Portland seemed well positioned to land a Final Four.
The news that Tampa, Florida (2025) and Phoenix (2026) were chosen has to be a gut-punch for the folks at Sport Oregon and at Oregon State who worked so hard on Portland's bid.
Portland wasn't left out completely. A women's regional will return to the Moda Center in 2024, and NCAA men's basketball first- and second-round games will be in Portland in 2026. But the city didn't land the big fish — again.
Those who worked on the bid, including Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes, Rose Quarter representatives and Travel Portland, said the right things, of course.
"We are extremely excited to host these premier NCAA basketball events again in our city," Sport Oregon CEO Jim Etzel said in a press release. "We're a top-tier basketball town, and we're thrilled to showcase Portland again to the NCAA."
Said Barnes: "We are eager to embrace another great chance to showcase our state and our university."
It's hard not to think that the months-long protests, unrest and vandalism in the city took away any advantage Portland might have had. And it's hard not to expect that the national perception of our city — fair or not — will take longer to repair than the physical destruction.
That's a shame. The women's basketball programs at Oregon State and Oregon are rolling now, have plenty of eyes on them and two classy, exceptional coaches. The Portland Pilots program is on the rise and Portland State was a NCAA Tournament team in 2019.
The future looks bright for all four Division I women's programs in the state. But where will they be seven or eight years from now? It will now be at least seven or eight years before Portland can host a women's Final Four. With Phoenix the site in 2026, it is unlikely the NCAA will select a West Coast site in 2027, so the next reasonable shot is for 2028.
The big winner in the region on Wednesday was the rebuilt Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, which was chosen to host the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships from 2024 through 2027. Oregon already is scheduled to host the outdoor championships in 2021 (June 9-12) and 2022, so Hayward Field will be the site for six of the next seven national meets. The University of Texas, which was to hold the canceled meet in 2020, will be the site for the 2023 championships.
Hayward Field has hosted the Division I nationals 16 times since 1962, most recently in 2018.
Oregon State is the host school for the 2024 women's regional at Moda Center and for the 2026 men's first and second rounds. OSU also was selected to host a women's gymnastics regional in 2026 and a men's golf regional in 2026 at Trysting Tree Golf Club.
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