Utah garners regional in 2010
It has been nearly a quarter-century since college basketball fans in Utah were able to watch in person as a team qualified for the NCAA Final Four.
But that streak will end soon.
The NCAA will hold the West Regional of its men's basketball tournament at the Delta Center in 2010, the organization announced Thursday, allowing fans to attend Sweet 16 and quarterfinal games in Salt Lake City for the first time since legendary coach Dean Smith brought his North Carolina Tar Heels through town in 1981 en route to a loss in the national championship game.
Though the University of Utah will act as the host, the games will be held March 25 and 27 at the downtown Delta Center because the Huntsman Center on campus for years has been too small to meet the
NCAA requirements for a regional site. The Delta Center has 19,911 seats, while the Huntsman Center has 15,000.
The Huntsman Center remains a potential site for first- and second-round games, however - the arena has been host to such games 12 times in the last 23 years, including last season - and university officials said they will continue to bid for those games in the future.
But athletic director Chris Hill said the Utes "jumped" at the chance to be host to the regional, even if it must take place somewhere other than the arena that ranks second all-time by having been host to 81 tournament games overall. Only Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City has held more tournament games, having entertained 83 of them from 1940-64.
The Final Four in 2010 will be held at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
NCAA regionals in Utah
Year Arena Regional Champion
1962 Smith Fieldhouse, Provo UCLA
1963 Smith Fieldhouse, Provo Oregon State
1965 Smith Fieldhouse, Provo UCLA**
1971 Special Events Center, SLC* UCLA**
1972 Marriott Center, Provo UCLA**
1977 Marriott Center, Provo UNLV
1979 Marriott Center, Provo DePaul
1981 Special Events Center, SLC* North Carolina
1982 Marriott Center, Provo Georgetown
1983 Dee Events Center, Ogden N.C. State**
* - Later renamed Huntsman Center; ** - Eventual national champion