Fairfield University is hoping to keep one of the four regional sites for the 2013 NCAA women’s basketball tournament affiliated with the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Fairfield Athletic Director Gene Doris said Friday that Fairfield is in the process of placing a bid to host a regional at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport March 30-April 1.
The MAAC was originally scheduled to host the regional in Trenton, N.J. However, the NCAA announced Monday that it was forced to remove the regional from the site due to a new state law that permits gambling on both college and professional games.
“It’s a little more complicated than what the normal process is because, obviously, the Trenton regional was being hosted by the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which we belong to,’’ Doris said. “So they are being given some deference in terms of looking for a new site for them to be able to still continue to host it. The MAAC, who currently has the hosting rights, has put themselves with us to move ahead with trying to get it to stay with the MAAC.’’
Fairfield previously hosted an NCAA women’s basketball regional in Bridgeport in 2006. It has also hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Doris said that the MAAC expected to receive the new bid forms from the NCAA Friday afternoon. A formal bid could be made early next week.
“The NCAA said it’s an open process,’’ Doris said. “Now I would have to think that the NCAA would try to be deferential to the group that’s being affected. And the fact that they’ve been able to find an alternate site to Trenton I think should carry some weight. It’s a quick turnaround process, but it’s an open one.’’
NCAA Associate Director, Championships and Alliances Rick Nixon said in an e-mail Friday that the NCAA has already received several phone calls from parties interested in hosting the regional. Bidding is open to any city across the nation.
“We will begin accepting bids next week,’’ Nixon said. “And following committee and staff review of all bid documents, we anticipate having a decision by the first week in November.’’
The MAAC has already received the necessary information from Webster Bank Arena regarding the financials of the event. The arena, which has undergone some impressive renovations in the past several months, is available for the particular time slot. And the Connecticut Tourism and Sports Bureau is currently working to secure the required hotel space.
Doris said that five hotels are needed, with about 50 rooms per property.
“(The NCAA is) going to try to do it as quickly as possible without putting it to where it looks like they just did a sham of a process in terms of doing it,’’ Doris said. “So they’re going to give each group that wants to bid on it its proper due time. I think the only advantage we have is that the current host is putting in the bid with us and I think the hope is the NCAA would want to keep it with the current group that was hosting.’’
UConn’s pursuit of an NCAA-record sixth straight Final Four appearance would not leave Connecticut should the NCAA award the MAAC/Fairfield the regional in Bridgeport. The Huskies are hosting the first and second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at Gampel Pavilion.
“We’re hopeful,’’ Doris said. “We really are. We think we’ve done a very good job with hosting in the past, and we have hosted a regional here in the past. And we’ve sent them the new look of the Webster Bank Arena. Quite frankly, with the new scoreboard and the ribbon boards and all of the upgrades that have been put in, we’re hopeful that they’ll even look at us more favorably than they would have if we still had the same building just as it was last year.’’