The University of Dayton is preparing its bid to bring the NCAA First Four men’s basketball games back to Dayton. Last season, the Dayton Flyers went to the Elite Eight for the first time in 30 years. The First Four games and the Flyer’s recent success highlight the growing economic impact of UD basketball for the city.
Dayton has hosted the NCAA first round games for the last 14 years and though the bid for the next three seasons aren’t due until August, the university is already putting together a proposal. It will include ticket sales projections, pricing, and venue size, but Neil Sullivan, Deputy Director of Athletics at UD, says they’ll also need to show what’s unique about Dayton.
“I think the Flyers resonated, not only with a national audience but frankly with a global audience,” he said. “And I think all that can do is paint a picture of the Dayton, Ohio as the epicenter of college basketball and with the most passionate fans.”
Sullivan says UD’s NCAA bid committee will submit bids for both the first four, and the second and third round games. The deputy director says they are “in full mode, preparing... to make sure that we’ve got the bid that wins.”
The First Four games and the Flyers' success have been good for Dayton’s economy. City commissioners recently studied the marketing value of the Flyer’s run into the Elite Eight. They estimate the city received nearly $73 million dollars worth of free publicity, with thousands mentions on national and cable television.
“Well, it’s a positive for us because our economic development office doesn’t have to go out and buy that advertising,” said Hilary Browning, legislative aid in the city commissioner’s office. She says the city could have never afforded that kind of marketing. “It was basically bringing us national prominence in a way that we probably wouldn’t have been able to do ourselves.”
City leaders say they’re now trying to figure out how to capitalize on the positive exposure from UD’s run in the tournament. They believe the Flyers' success, and other events like it, can bring people into the region to live, work, or go to school.
“Whenever we can publicize positive events, like what the University of Dayton basketball program did,” said City Commissioner Joey WIlliams, “it reflects well on our city.”