The Rock to host Big Dance
Seton Hall has been guaranteed a role in 2011’s March Madness.Newark’s Prudential Center has been selected as a site of regional round play in the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament. As announced by Athletics on Monday, Seton Hall will be considered the host school during the games.”Every team has come out with praise for the way the building is managed,” Joseph Quinlan, Director of Athletics, said. “It made us proud, and I think it was a factor in the selection.”The rounds of the tournament that will occur at Prudential Center are more commonly known as the “Sweet 16” and “Elite Eight” games. Two contests will be held on the first night of play (Friday, March 25), with the winning teams meeting two days later to play for a spot in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.”We had nearly 70 bids for 36 spots,” David Worlock, associate director for the Division I men’s basketball championship, said. “The committee is always looking to get exposure in different cities.” This will be the first time for both the university and the city of Newark to host the NCAA Tournament’s regional round.”Newark is the only one (host city) with no hosting history which makes it unique,” Worlock said. “Our three factors in determining a site are competition venue, full service hotels and travel to and from them.”The former home of the Pirates, the current Izod Center, has served as a location for the NCAA Tournament’s regional rounds, on 11 separate occasions, most recently in 2004 and 2007. It also hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1996.In 2007, despite being the major college basketball team which played all its home games in the arena, Seton Hall was not considered a tournament host at the then-Continental Airlines Arena. Rutgers University instead earned the distinction.”It calls for a collaborative effort with the institution,” Worlock said.Worlock added that the university will be “heavily involved” and responsible for many aspect of the tournament’s regional round, including using its own staff for game management, media operation/relations, and the handling of game credentials.”It’s a really fun and exciting event when you are able to witness the passion of college basketball fans with the eyes of the nation watching,” Quinlan said. The Izod Center also placed a bid to host the regional round in 2011, according to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.”We congratulate Seton Hall and Joe Quinlan,” John Samerjan, Vice President of Public Affairs for the NJSEA, said. “We have a long history of hosting events, and I’m sure that we will (in the future.”A team is not allowed to play its potential NCAA Tournament regional games at a venue in which they played more than three games during the college basketball season. That would place the Pirates ineligible to compete at Prudential Center in the postseason.Still, some students who will be enrolled during the spring of 2011 are excited that March Madness will occur so close to the campus.”It’s a great opportunity to showcase the school on a national stage as well as show off their almost-new arena Prudential Center to a national audience,” sophomore Chris Shedlock said. “The NCAA tournament is watched by so many people both in the U.S. and worldwide, so having the opportunity to host is a big deal for the school.”Other regional sites for 2011, as selected by the NCAA, include Anaheim, San Antonio and New Orleans. The Final Four that year will occur at Reliant Stadium in Houston.Seton Hall will host the tournament on March 25 and 27, 2011.Brian Wisowaty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tim LeCras can be reached at email@example.com.