Four reasons Dayton should continue to host First Four

The floor at UD Arena before the First Four in 2016. TY GREENLEES/STAFF
The floor at UD Arena before the First Four in 2016. TY GREENLEES/STAFF

Hershey, Pa., is one of the great cities on the planet. No one in Dayton would dispute that because everybody in Dayton loves chocolate. Even if Hershey were “a dusty, old industrial town,” the Hershey Company makes Kit Kats and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and York Peppermint Patties — and chocolate makes everything better.

A writer for thinks the wonderful city of Hershey should have more than candy. David Jones wrote Tuesday about the city's quest to land the First Four — the NCAA has opened the bidding process for the 2019-22 seasons — and slammed the Gem City in his piece.

Jones wrote: “The Hershey entertainment and amusement complex offers a superior on-site tourism center to Dayton which is basically a dusty old industrial town with impressive flight museums based on its Wright Brothers and Air Force heritage and not a lot else to do.”

Obviously, Jones has never visited Dayton or watched the First Four in person at UD Arena. Here are four reasons Dayton should continue to host the First Four for years to come:

1. Tradition: Dayton is the only city to have ever hosted the First Four. Next year will be the seventh First Four. UD has secured the First Four through 2018. Prior to the First Four, the NCAA tournament play-in games were played at UD Arena for 10 years.

2. History: No arena in the country has hosted more NCAA tournament games than UD Arena. The total reached 113 games this year.

3. Attendance: The NCAA doesn't have to worry about UD selling tickets for the First Four. The Dayton Flyers ranked 25th in attendance in 2015-16, averaging 12,492 fans, the second-best total in school history.

That fan support carries over to the First Four. Tickets for the 2013 First Four sold out six months before the event. The first night of games in March drew 12,130 fans. Attendance the next night was 12,582. The First Four often outdraws games in the first and second rounds.

4. Support: The Big Hoopla is a non-profit organization dedicated to organizing events connected to the First Four. Members of the Local Organizing Committee meet throughout the year to ensure the continued success of the First Four.

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