The NCAA announced that for the first time it will host the men’s Final Four in Las Vegas in 2028 — signifying an end to its decades-old aversion to staging events in the nation’s gambling capital.
Three other Final Four host cities were part of that announcement: Detroit (Ford Field, 2027), Indianapolis (Lucas Oil, 2029), and Dallas (AT&T Stadium, 2030).
The NCAA previously agreed to host a men’s regional in Las Vegas in 2023, and has given the city the green light for nine other championships. But it’s never given the city access to the most popular and high-profile NCAA-sponsored championship until now.
Two major factors likely contributed to the timing: recent sporting events in Las Vegas and general attitudes toward gambling.
Vegas has garnered increasing interest from multiple sports, from Formula 1 to the NFL, and proven its more than capable of putting on successful major sporting events. In 2020, the city opened a new football stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders — significant for the men’s tournament given that the Final Four is usually staged in a football stadium, rather than a basketball arena.
- For the second year in a row, the stadium will host the Pac-12 football championship.
- In 2025, Allegiant will also host the College Football Playoff National Championship — though that championship isn’t run by the NCAA.
Sin City has also hosted several successful college basketball events. In a statement, the NCAA suggested Las Vegas has gotten rave reviews from multiple Division I conferences. In 2021 alone, the city hosted 10 men’s or women’s D-I basketball championships, from the Pac-12 to the Big West.
“The feedback from leagues, the fans of their teams and the media covering the events staged there has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are confident we’ll get the same reviews when the Men’s Final Four is played at Allegiant Stadium,” Chris Reynolds, athletic director at Bradley and the chair of the D-I men’s basketball committee, said in a statement.
The decision also comes at a time when NCAA schools are more willing than ever to embrace gambling companies in general, and sports betting in particular — from athletic department sponsorships to NIL deals.
While the gambling industry was previously taboo in college sports, schools and athletes have begun tapping into the industry as laws have passed in multiple states legalizing sports betting.