As the last pieces of confetti hit the floor Monday night in Glendale, Ariz., Bob Carney and his crew were already thinking about the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Carney is the associate athletic director of facilities and operations at Boise State, but with first- and second-round games slated to hit Taco Bell Arena next March 15 and 17, Carney has the added title of tournament director.
“It’s a little surreal that it’s here already, because when we bid it back in (2014), I thought, ‘Man that’s a long ways away,’” Carney said. “A month ago, it was like, ‘Man, it’s already come.’”
Boise State has hosted the NCAA Tournament on eight other occasions (1983, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2009). It will learn whether it hosts the tournament in 2021 or 2022 on April 18, according to Carney.
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Carney and his staff will be busy over the coming months. Having already visited the 2017 regionals in Salt Lake City to scout and get ideas, he and his staff also will travel to NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis in July to fine-tune a plan.
“We’ll have to put together our group that will manage in the different areas that we have to deal with. … We want to get a good group of people coming together,” Carney said. “Typically June or July, we’ll go out to Indianapolis, we’ll have meetings out there for everyone who’s going to host this year, and so they’ll kind of run through the process of what they have going on. From that, we’ll come back and really start to ramp up.”
The NCAA raised its minimum capacity for the tournament to 12,000 seats after the 2009 tournament, Carney said. After removing seats to accommodate increased media presence, Taco Bell Arena (usual capacity of 12,480) fell under the minimum threshold. The NCAA later changed its minimum capacity to 10,000, bringing Boise State back into contention.
In order to secure the bid, Boise State installed a new $1.5 million video board that has been in operation since 2015. Besides the board and a new floor the NCAA will send to Boise, there aren’t a lot of additions to be made, Carney said.
“There really aren’t a whole lot of upgrades. We’ll have to purchase some carpet, which can be anywhere from $8,000-$10,000,” Carney said. “But most of the facilities are ready to go. … We might have to add one or two light fixtures.”
Most of the work for Carney involves logistics and staffing. The school will need to find meeting rooms for teams and figure out locker room situations. Carney said there will be a need for 50-100 volunteers to “help out in variety of areas including media relations, team hosts, band and cheer liaisons, runners, guest services, etc.”
Other than that, Carney doesn’t imagine there is a ton of work to be done, though he won’t know for sure until the NCAA comes for a site visit. The time for that visit is yet to be determined.
“Until they actually come on site for that site visit … it’s really just kind of the unknown,” Carney said. “We have a good plan, we have a good foundation. ... It’ll just be bringing everyone together.”
The other major change for the 2018 tournament, compared to when Boise State hosted in 2009, is the ticket situation. In prior tournaments, Boise State handled ticket sales. The NCAA is now in charge of ticket distribution.
Season ticket holders with a point ranking that falls between 1-2,500 were able to purchase tickets from March 6-19. Season ticket holders not in that range can buy tickets through Friday. If any seats remain, the tickets will again be available to season ticket holders from April 10-23.
Remaining tickets, if any, will be released for sale to the general public.