Columbus will be in the national spotlight this basketball season, as Nationwide Arena hosts the NCAA Women’s Final Four, March 30-April 1, 2018. An estimated 40,000 fans will descend on central Ohio and are expected to spend about $20 million over a 5-day period. 1812 spoke with the Executive Director of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, Linda Logan, about the Final Four and what the event means for Columbus.
“I think we have this great opportunity to showcase Columbus as a great city. We know it’s a great sport city. But opening a lot of eyes, of those who’ve never been here before, it’s certainly something that gives us a lot of ambitious pleasure. The red carpet will be rolled out, so that everyone will have this opportunity to see the great things Columbus has.”
For people who are not basketball fans, why should they care that Columbus is hosting the women’s Final Four?
“We all have a lot of community pride. Bringing a big event to the community not only brings the economic impact and raises the profile of the community, but I think it adds to that quality of life for the people who live here. You might not even be a sports fan, but you can certainly engage in some fun activities for your family throughout the event– like the reading program we’ll have for our youngsters, and the Basketball Bounce that will provide a lot of community spirit. [During the Bounce, 2,500 young players will dribble basketballs through the Arena District]. We’re also doing great things for girls and women, by launching a program called Beyond the Baseline. We’ll be showcasing the variety of women in leadership in our community, so I think there really will be something for everyone.”
Logan commented on the growth of women’s sports over the years. She also said that the Final Four is an opportunity to recruit new fans to the game, and increase interest in women’s basketball.
“I feel like I’ve had a front row seat, as someone who grew up during the Title IX era. I graduated from high school the same year Title IX was passed. To see the growth of all women’s sports has been tremendous. [People who come to watch the games] will have an opportunity to see the best and the brightest. Anytime you’re surrounded by people that are the best at what they do, I think that really does kind of invite a lot of goodwill and a little bit of curiosity– like how did they get to be so good at that sport? With women’s sports, you’re converting people one game at a time, one player at a time, one fan at a time. We have the opportunity to impact a generation here in Columbus, by hosting the Final Four.”
Columbus will also take centerstage on Sunday, November 12– by kicking off the women’s college basketball season at Nationwide Arena. UConn will take the court for the first time since their epic, buzzer-beating loss to Mississippi State in last year’s semifinals; that loss ended a historic 111-game winning streak for the Huskies. At the Countdown to Columbus, UConn will begin their season against Stanford at 1:30PM, followed by Ohio State versus Louisville at 4PM.