SAN ANTONIO – The NCAA officially named San Antonio host of the 2021 Women’s Division I basketball tournament to be held throughout March and early April.
City leaders and NCAA officials made a formal announcement on Friday, which will include 64 teams from across the country.
Six championship rounds featuring 63 games will be played using five venues and six courts in San Antonio, Austin and San Marcos, Texas, with the Alamodome hosting two of those courts. The NCAA is currently in discussions for games to be played at the following venues and schedule:
- First-round play will take place March 21-22 at the Alamodome, Bill Greehey Arena on the campus of St. Mary’s (Texas), Frank Erwin Center (Texas), University Events Center (Texas State) and the UTSA Convocation Center.
- Second-round play will shift entirely to venues in San Antonio, with the Alamodome, Bill Greehey Arena and the UTSA Convocation Center playing host March 23-24.
- The tournament will shift to the Alamodome for all remaining rounds, with the Sweet 16 games played March 27-28, Elite Eight games held March 29-30 and the Women’s Final Four conducted April 2 and 4.
San Antonio city officials and the NCAA worked for months to determine the logistics of hosting the tournament in a single region.
The Alamodome was previously chosen as the site for this year’s Women’s Final Four, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused officials to think about conducting the tournament in a manageable geographic area that limits travel.
A tournament committee also focused on a single region to conduct safety measures in a controlled environment with competition and practice venues, medical resources and lodging for teams and officials all in close proximity.
Diamond Health will serve as the testing provider for the tournament and will be responsible for testing players, coaching staffs, administrators and officials. Assistant City Manager Dr. Colleen Bridger said the NCAA will pay for the tests.
Player, coaches and team staff members traveling to the San Antonio area will be subject to seven negative COVID-19 tests prior to departure. They will also travel by private charter and undergo weekly tests. Teams will be kept in pods to avoid contact with the public, opposing players and coaches.
The NCAA will continue to work closely with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District on approved medical protocols.
No decision has been made on fan attendance. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said there were no public ticket sales as of Friday afternoon and family members are the only people that are expected to be in attendance for at least the first two rounds. If general public attendance is determined appropriate for the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four, the attendance policy will follow the established local guidelines.
The tournament is expected to also help the city’s tourism industry which has been hit by the pandemic.
Nirenberg expected the use of more than 35,000 hotels rooms for the event and teams, even those playing in Austin or San Marcos, will be housed in San Antonio and other areas of Bexar County.
The hotels will be used exclusively for teams and other Tier 1 tested individuals. Practices will take place using nine courts that will be set up in the downtown Henry B. González Convention Center, plus the two in the Alamodome.
The committee will announce the bracket at 6 p.m. on Selection Monday, March 15, on ESPN. An ESPN channel will broadcast every game of the tournament.
Official team travel parties with a maximum of 34 individuals will arrive Tuesday, March 16, and Wednesday, March 17, in San Antonio.
The University of the Incarnate Word, the University of Texas at San Antonio and San Antonio Sports will serve as hosts for the 2021 Women’s Final Four.
The Alamodome has hosted several NCAA Final Four events for men and women.
It hosted the Men’s Final Four in 1998, 2004, 2008, 2018 and is scheduled to host the men’s championship again in 2025.
The Alamodome hosted the Women’s Final Four in 2002, 2010, and the 2011 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Final Four.