Taco Bell Arena has a history of hosting intriguing NCAA men's basketball tournament games, and it will get its next chance in 2018.
On Monday, the NCAA announced that Taco Bell Arena will be one of the host sites for first- and second-round games on March 15 and 17, 2018. It will be the the ninth time the arena has hosted (1983, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2009). In 1992, it hosted teams that included coach Bob Knight (Indiana) and in his final college games, Shaquille O'Neal (LSU). In 1995, it saw UCLA's Tyus Edney go coast-to-coast for a buzzer-beating layup to beat Missouri that helped the Bruins continue their run to a national title. In 2001, four games in one day were decided by seven points.
“We’re excited to get the tournament back in Boise,” Boise State Athletics Director Mark Coyle said. “One of the most common things I hear from Bronco fans is they would really like to see the NCAA tournament come back to Taco Bell Arena. Our staff worked really hard to put together a competitive bid and we look forward to hosting the tournament.”
"It's exciting. I gave a fist pump when I heard about it," Boise State men's basketball coach Leon Rice said.
In March, I spoke to Coyle about the NCAA Tournament returning (story here). He said, "One of the first things people asked me when I started (in 2011) was, ‘When is the NCAA Tournament coming back?'" Coyle said. "We want to be in a position where if we get the opportunity, we can take it on."
The arena will look quite a bit different than it did when the tournament last came here in 2009, and even than it does in 2014.
Coyle previously told the Idaho Statesman that if the tournament was to return, Boise's bid would be bolstered by improvements to the arena, including a new video board, signage and sound system. On Monday, he said those improvements, in all likelihood, will be done by then.
"There are some improvements we need to make," Coyle said. "That will be a part of the process those were things we addressed in our bid."
Other first- and second-round sites in 2018 will be Pittsburgh, Wichita, Dallas, Charlotte, Detroit, Nashville and San Diego.