May 24, 2018

Columbus shows world what it’s made of during NCAA Women’s Final Four

The NCAA Women’s Final Four played in Columbus over Easter weekend and is being called possibly the greatest in history, with some of the best basketball games ever played.

Visitors, sportscasters, coaches and others in town for three sold-out games at Nationwide Arena heaped praise on both the city and organizers, calling the event a nearly flawless weekend of excitement and hospitality.

Linda Logan, executive director of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, says the smile still hasn’t left her face.

“I was most pleased about our community and how people played their part, whether they were volunteers, families, government leaders or those in the hospitality industry,” she says. “We had wonderful engagement from both the public and private partners who raised $2.6 million to support the event, as well as tremendous support from our mayor, county commissioners, city council, police and fire. One sportscaster asked at the end of her broadcast ‘When are we coming back to Columbus?’ That was great to hear.”

As the games were played at Nationwide Arena, the entire Arena District was transformed into a festival atmosphere with special programs and events that drew thousands of visitors and residents to the area. Meanwhile, Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority-owned venues rose to the occasion.  Arena District hotels housed the teams and coaches, while the CFA-owned Hilton Columbus Downtown hosted the NCAA staff, the women’s basketball committee and sponsors.

At the same time, the Greater Columbus Convention Center welcomed more than 2,300 delegates to the 2018 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Convention from March 29 through April 1 in conjunction with the Final Four.

The NCAA announced in late 2014 that it had chosen Columbus from among a list of finalists, including Dallas, Houston, Nashville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Tampa. While there were a number of factors that led the NCAA to select Columbus, Logan thinks the announcement was a sign that Columbus had finally grown into the role. One key was the opening of the Hilton Columbus Downtown across from the Convention Center in 2012.

“We bid on the Final Four in 2007 and learned in 2008 we didn’t get it. There were a couple of reasons for that, but it helped us build the story about our need for another convention hotel. Many of our board members feel it was a defining moment as it made the community work harder, and the Hilton was announced soon after.”

The recent announcement of a 22-story Hilton expansion adjacent to the Convention Center – a project that will give Columbus its first 1,000-room convention hotel – is another step in Columbus’ ability to compete for larger sporting events and conventions, Logan says.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter
Plan your next event in Columbus

Shopping for an event site

If you’re considering Columbus as an event site and have questions about hotels, attractions, transportation, or how to submit a proposal for your event, contact Experience Columbus.

Answers about the Greater Columbus Convention Center

If you’ve scheduled an event for the Greater Columbus Convention Center and have questions about scheduling, facilities or services, you can find the answers here.

Help with your sporting event

If you’ve scheduled a sporting event in Columbus, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission can provide additional information about sports facilities, hotels, transportation and area attractions. It can also help you promote your event.