Birmingham to host first two rounds of March Madness in 2023
The City of Birmingham on Wednesday announced it will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament for Division I men’s basketball in 2023 at the newly renovated BJCC.
Additionally, the venue will host the Division I women’s basketball southern regional in 2025.
This announcement marks the first NCAA Tournament action in Birmingham since 2008 for men’s basketball and the first time ever for the women’s tournament.
The decision to return March Madness to the Magic City followed a collaborative effort by the City of Birmingham, BJCC, Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, Knight Eady and the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
“This is a perfect example of cooperation between public and private partners to elevate Birmingham’s position as a great place to host world class events like March Madness,” stated Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin.
“For too long, we’ve had to watch other southeastern cities host the men’s and women’s Division I tournaments. With the renovation and expansion of the BJCC, we are firmly back in the game and committed to competing for top tier sporting and entertainment events,” he continued.
The BJCC’s Legacy Arena closed in April for a $123 million renovation and expansion. It is expected to reopen in 2022.
“The comprehensive renovation and expansion of Legacy Arena makes Birmingham the ideal home to once again host NCAA tournament basketball,” advised Tad Snider, executive director and CEO of the BJCC Authority. “The improvements focus on fan experience, premium seating options, improved food and beverage options as well as new team and artist areas, with back-of-house operational improvements to support our event partners. Fans will watch the games from upgraded seats, modern hospitality suites, and club areas with views to the event floor and the teams will enjoy locker and coaches rooms on par with any other venue in the country. We look forward to hosting the NCAA in Alabama’s largest and newly renovated Legacy Arena.”
John Oros, Jr., president and CEO of the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, noted, “While we can’t predict an economic impact that far in the future, we do know that historically these events generate millions of dollars for the local economy.”
“In addition to direct economic impact, we will have the added benefit for the newly renovated Legacy Arena through TV exposure. We’ve long enjoyed our relationship with the NCAA and look forward to continuing that alliance in the coming years,” he added.
A bid for an NCAA tournament requires a member institution or conference to serve as host. The SEC, headquartered in Birmingham, will serve in that role for these basketball competitions.
“The Southeastern Conference is proud to serve as the host and join in the collaborative effort that will bring the NCAA Basketball Tournament to Birmingham,” commented SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “March is annually one of the most exciting months on the college sports calendar, and Birmingham will be in the nation’s focus in 2023 and 2025. Our thanks to the City of Birmingham, the BJCC, the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau and Knight Eady for joining the SEC in this successful effort.”
This continues a theme of successful public-private partnerships in Birmingham’s athletics and entertainment ecosystem.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn