Some NCAA men's basketball games will be staged at Mackey Arena this spring, as the NCAA announced today the entire 2021 men's basketball championship will be in Indiana.
The majority of the tournament's 67 games will be in Indianapolis. Selection Sunday is still scheduled for March 14, and plans remain to have the Final Four April 3 and 5, with exact preliminary round dates still to be determined.
"This is a historic moment for NCAA members and the state of Indiana," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a release. "We have worked tirelessly to reimagine a tournament structure that maintains our unique championship opportunity for college athletes."
"We are excited to serve as a host site for the 2021 NCAA men's basketball championship and will work with the NCAA, the Indiana Sports Corporation, Purdue University and local officials to ensure a safe and positive experience for all participants that will compete in Mackey Arena," Purdue Director of Athletics Mike Bobinski said in a Purdue press release Monday.
The NCAA is partnering with a local health provider to administer COVID-19 testing within the controlled environment for players, coaching staffs, administrators and officials. The Marion County Health Department has approved medical protocols shared by the NCAA and will continue collaborating with the NCAA leading up to and during the championship.
The tournament will be hosted by Ball State University, Butler University, the Horizon League, Indiana University, IUPUI and Purdue, which are lending their facilities and staffs to assist with tournament operations, the NCAA said in its announcement. The Indiana Convention Center will be used as a practice facility, with multiple courts set up inside the venue. Marriott properties will house most of the tournament teams and are connected to the convention center via skywalks and within a controlled environment. All teams will be housed on dedicated hotel floors, with physically distanced meeting and dining rooms, as well as secure transportation to and from competition venues.
Games will be played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. Only one game at a time will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"The 2021 version of March Madness will be one to remember, if for no other reason than the uniqueness of the event," NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said in the statement. "With the direction of the men's basketball committee, we are making the most of the circumstances the global pandemic has presented. ...
"This is going to be complicated and difficult; there's no question about that," he said in the statement. "We appreciate the collaboration among the men's basketball committee and staff, our hosts and local organizers, the staffs at each practice and competition venue, and our broadcast and corporate partners."
The NCAA is closely monitoring the ongoing pandemic and will continue to work with local officials to determine the feasibility of having fans attend games at any of the venues, though a limited number of family members of each participating teams' student-athletes and coaches will be permitted to attend their team's games. Details pertaining to the possible allocation of other tickets will be finalized later, as will any decision about fan events.
The NCAA is also working with the city and state to promote "Mask Madness," an initiative to promote health and safety by practicing social distancing and wearing a mask. As part of this program, the NCAA will donate thousands of masks throughout the state leading up to the tournament.