Preparations are underway for the NCAA women's Final Four in Columbus, which will take place at Nationwide Arena in March. It's the first time Ohio State and Columbus will host the competition, which landed in Cleveland in 2007 and Cincinnati in 1997.
Meredith Cleaver, NCAA's director for the Women's Basketball Championship, says the path to a Columbus women's Final Four started about 10 years ago. She says its location played a big role in securing the tournament, as did its connection to the sport.
"It has such a strong women's basketball community, women's and girls' in sports and women's and girls' leadership initiatives and youth opportunities, that we thought, 'Wow, this is a really cool city,'" Cleaver says.
Cleaver pointed to Nationwide Arena and the hotel accommodations as strong points.
"Nationwide Arena has hosted a couple of our NCAA championships now and we can't wait to be there," Cleaver says. "It is just top notch in terms of the technology, the experience of the facilities staff, the size of the venue is absolutely perfect for what we're looking for."
Linda Logan, executive director of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, estimates the three-day weekend will attract about 40,000 fans for both the tournament and related events like a fan festival and kids' "Basketball Bounce."
The city will also host about 3,000 members of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
"We're estimating about $20 million worth of visitor spending, economic impact for the community," Logan says.