Much hype surrounding the Women’s Final Four in Dallas will center on the University of Connecticut. But Dallas Sports Commission Executive Director Monica Paul is looking closer to home.
As the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament begins this week, Paul admits she’s hoping at least one in-state team makes it to Dallas. Between Baylor and The University of Texas at Austin, there’s a decent chance Paul will get her wish.
“We’re Big 12 country,” says Paul. “It would create an exciting atmosphere.”
For more than a year, marketing the Final Four has been the name of the game for the commission. The effort began in earnest during last year’s Women’s NCAA Tournament regional finals at American Airlines Center, the same venue for the 2017 championship weekend.
“The Women’s Final Four is not a guaranteed sellout from our point of view,” says Paul. “We have to lead the way in creating awareness.”
Hosting a local team or two won’t hurt. On a national scale, Connecticut extending its 100-game-plus undefeated streak would only boost ratings.
This is the first time Dallas will host the women’s championship, but it’s not new to women’s hoops. Dallas hosted the 2011 and 2016 NCAA regional finals, as well as the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship in 2013 and 2015.
With a new city comes another change for the tournament: The final will be played on a Sunday instead of a Tuesday.
Knowing the NCAA was moving the championship to the weekend was merely a bonus when vying for the Women’s Final Four, Paul says. “We were going to bid on it no matter what,” she admits. “The change makes it a little easier to market. Families or others in town may have to take off a little less work to attend.”