The NCAA has selected Portland to host the 2024 Women’s Basketball Regional and 2026 Men’s Basketball First and Second Rounds, falling short of their goal to host the 2025 or 2026 NCAA women’s Final Four.
Sport Oregon, Oregon State University, Travel Portland and the Rose Quarter worked together to create a competitive bid for Portland to host the tournament. If they won, this would’ve been the first time Portland has ever hosted a Final Four, but in the end the Women’s Final Four was awarded to Tampa in 2025 and Phoenix in 2026.
Sport Oregon’s, an organization that works to bring sporting events to Oregon, CEO Jim Etzel said that although he was disappointed that the bid wasn’t a success, Portland being awarded two regionals are still significant steps towards establishing the city as a major athletic player.
“Considering that we’ve never hosted a regional before 2019, it was a big win,” Etzel said. “We’ll take it.”
Because of COVID-19, the bidding process this year consisted of numerous presentations over Zoom instead of the usual in-person pitches and visits to potential host sites.
Portland was scheduled to host a 2020 women’s regional, however, it was canceled because of COVID-19. Etzel said the cancelation hurt the Final Four bid because hosting the 2020 women’s regional would’ve added another successful data point for Portland.
Etzel sees the 2024 Women’s Basketball Regional and 2026 Men’s Basketball First and Second Rounds as a chance for Portland to show that they make a great host city for these events, especially because major sports brands such as Adidas, Under Armour and Nike all have headquarters in Oregon.
“Right now, we’re excited about what we’ve got,” Etzel said. “We’re extremely disappointed at the same time not to win the Final Four. We’re convinced that there’s no better market for women’s sports… (than) Portland, Oregon.”
The Women’s Basketball Regional in 2024 will look different due to the NCAA format change for women’s basketball starting in 2023, with two locations for regionals, instead of the four, and eight teams competing at each site.
In spite of missing out on the Final Four this cycle, Etzel is optimistic Portland will get it in the future.
“There was always gonna be two winners and two losers,” Etzel said. “I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again.”
Joslin Torres is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.