Seven months after losing the chance to host an opening weekend of March Madness due to the pandemic, Tampa has been granted some amends.
The NCAA on Wednesday announced its championship sites for a four-year stretch (2023-26), with Amalie Arena being awarded four prominent events. Among them: the 2025 Division I Women’s Final Four.
It will be Tampa’s fourth turn as host of that event, a record. Amalie also is hosting men’s NCAA Tournament first- and second-round action in 2026, the 2023 Division I men’s Frozen Four hockey championships and the 2023 Division I women’s volleyball finals.
The events were awarded following bids by the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, which was set to host NCAA men’s opening-weekend action and WrestleMania 36 earlier this year before the coronavirus intervened. The men’s tournament was canceled, and WrestleMania was moved to a WWE training center in Orlando, where it was held without a live audience.
“While the recent months have been challenging to say the least, Team Tampa Bay’s spirit is unique, unwavering and second to none,” said commission executive director Rob Higgins, also president and CEO of the host committee for Super Bowl 55, set for Raymond James Stadium early next year.
“We’re beyond grateful to our friends at the NCAA for entrusting us with each of these incredibly special events."
Tampa Bay has welcomed more fans in Women’s Final Four history than any other city, with a combined 123,039 fans attending in 2008, 2015 and 2019, according to the NCAA. The 2019 event, won by Baylor, drew a combined 40,189 fans over two nights.
The city previously hosted the men’s Frozen Four in 2012 and 2016. It hosted the women’s volleyball championships in 2009.
“Our organization, alongside our tremendous community partners and host institutions, prides itself on our high standard for hosting NCAA championships and we can’t wait to get to work as we aim to raise the bar even higher," Higgins said.
“Our hometown’s future has never been brighter."