Did you know that the arena that has hosted the most NCAA men’s basketball tournament games ever hosted 50 percent more games than the arena that is no. 2 on the list? Seriously, and this divide will only grow in the future.
Each arena and city that hosts the NCAA Tournament has its own personality, but each arena can be home to an unlikely upset or a thrilling buzz. That’s the beauty of the NCAA Tournament.
Here are the basketball arenas that have hosted the most NCAA Tournament games of all time. The following data comes from the official NCAA Tournament record book and is current as of the 2022-23 season.
1. University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, OH
Organized games: 133 matches
The University of Dayton Arena is a staple in the NCAA Tournament rotation each year due to the university’s role as host of the First Four, so it’s easy to see why the arena in this basketball-loving city is ranked No. 1 nationally. Ohio State is third nationally in NCAA tournament games played at 212, just 11 behind California and 51 behind North Carolina, and Dayton has carried the bulk of the load for the state.
Built in 1969, the University of Dayton Arena first hosted an NCAA Tournament game in the 1970 NCAA Tournament, where the first round games of the Mideast Regional were held.
NCAA Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt announced that Dayton will continue to host the First Four, meaning Dayton’s lead over the rest of the arenas in the country could continue to grow.
2. Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City, MO
Organized games: 83 matches
Kansas City has hosted the second-most NCAA Tournament games of any city — 137, four more than Dayton — and Municipal Auditorium has hosted just over 60 percent of those games. Kansas City has hosted 10 national championship games, two more than Indianapolis and three more than New York, and Municipal Arena historically leads all arenas in regional finals hosted (13) and national championship games (nine) .
The national championship game in 1940, 1941, 1942, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1961 and 1964 was played inside the Municipal Auditorium, with Indiana winning two national titles and schools such as North Carolina, Cincinnati winning their first championship and UCLA .
Surprisingly, Municipal Arena hasn’t hosted the NCAA Tournament in nearly 60 years, but given how often it hosted the tournament in the 1940s and 1950s, it ranks second all-time.
3. Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT
Organized games: 81 matches
The Jon M. Huntsman Center on the University of Utah campus leads all arenas that could be considered “out West” with 81 games — 22 more than the McKale Center in Tuscon, Arizona — and that comes despite the arena not hosting an NCAA tournament game since 14 years ago. Salt Lake City is also fourth all-time in NCAA tournament games hosted by the city with 104.
The arena made its debut in 1969 when it was named the Special Events Center, then it hosted its first NCAA Tournament game two years later. The Special Events Center hosted what was perhaps the most influential game in men’s basketball history – the 1979 national championship game between Michigan State and Magic Johnson, and Indiana State and Larry Bird. You can watch the full match here.
Nielsen Field House was actually the first arena in Salt Lake City to host the NCAA Tournament.
4. Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Organized games: 80 matches
Madison Square Garden, or the “Mecca of Basketball,” is one of basketball’s most famous arenas, and its ties to the NCAA Tournament are as deep and strong as any arena in the country. Madison Square Garden first hosted the NCAA Tournament in 1943, which was won only by the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium (1940) among the arenas on this list, and MSG last hosted the tournament in 2023, the most recent year. last among the arenas on this list.
Madison Square Garden is second in national championship games hosted (seven), second among all arenas in regional final games hosted (12), and New York – both city and state – ranks among the most frequent NCAA Tournament games, thanks to MSG.
Madison Square Garden hosted the national championship in 1943-48 and again in 1950, when some of the sport’s earliest champions were crowned, including Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State), Holy Cross, Kentucky and CCNY.
5. Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
Organized games: 69 matches
The Greensboro Coliseum has hosted all 69 NCAA Tournament games that have been in Greensboro, which ranks 11th all-time in tournament games hosted among all cities in the nation. As a state, North Carolina leads the nation with 263 tournament games hosted, and Greensboro has contributed to a significant percentage of those games.
In the first year it ever hosted the NCAA Tournament, 1974, Greensboro hosted the Final Four in front of a crowd of 16,000. The Final Four field that season featured two of the most successful programs in men’s college basketball history—UCLA and Kansas—but it was NC State and Marquette that both made their first appearances in the national championship game, with Wolfpack winning 76-64.
LOOK BACK: Top 10 changes in the NCAA Tournament since 1995
6. RCA Dome, Indianapolis, IN
Organized games: 60 matches
The RCA Dome was demolished in 2008, meaning the arena’s NCAA Tournament game total will remain at 60 games, and the fact that it is sixth all-time shows how many games the arena hosted over a 20-year stretch. It is tied for fifth all-time in national championship games hosted after hosting the Final Four in 1991, 1997, 2000 and 2006, and holds the record for first-round and second-round appearances most followed. ever, while 39,940 fans attended the 1990 first-round matchup with Texas, Georgia, Purdue and Louisiana-Monroe, and 40,331 packed the RCA Dome to watch Illinois play Nevada, and Kentucky face Cincinnati in the second in 2005.
Who is second through fifth on those lists of the most-watched first-round and second-round NCAA Tournament sessions?
Well, that’s the RCA Dome too. Given its Midwestern geography and arena capacity, the RCA Dome drew crowds unlike any other arena that has hosted the NCAA Tournament, at least on the tournament’s first weekend.
The RCA Dome also ranks No. 1 through No. 5 in the highest three-session series for the first and second rounds, including a record 117,119 fans in the first two rounds of the 1990 tournament.
7. McKale Center, Tucson, AZ
Organized games: 59 matches
McKale Center needs to host just one more NCAA Tournament game to tie the RCA Dome for sixth all-time. Located on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tuscon, Arizona, the McKale Center first hosted the NCAA Tournament in 1974, when it was the site of the West Regional, where UCLA defeated San Francisco. The Bruins had won the previous seven national championships, but they were eliminated in the 1974 Final Four by eventual national champion NC State in double overtime.
8. Omni, Atlanta, GA
Organized games: 55 matches
The Omni folded in 1997 and last hosted the NCAA Tournament five years ago, so its NCAA Tournament play total will forever stand at 55 games. The fact that it hosted only tournament games over a 16-year span and that it’s been 28 years since the tournament was last played there shows the kind of force the Omni was in the NCAA Tournament as far as a host site.
The Omni hosted the Final Four in 1977, the first year it hosted the tournament, five years after it was built. The Final Four field that season was North Carolina, UNLV, Charlotte and Marquette, with Marquette winning its first and only national championship that season, defeating North Carolina.
Atlanta ranks eighth nationally in terms of NCAA Tournament games hosted by the city, and The Omni hosted the majority of those games.
T-9. Charlotte Coliseum I, Charlotte, NC
Organized games: 50 matches
Charlotte Coliseum I has an “I” added to the end of its name in the NCAA record books because there is another Charlotte Coliseum — Charlotte Coliseum II, if you will — that hosted the Final Four in 1994. In the basketball-obsessed state of Carolina of the North, Charlotte has hosted 98 NCAA Tournament games, which ranks fifth nationally of any city. Charlotte is tied for ninth in the nation as host of eight regional finals.
Charlotte Coliseum first hosted the NCAA Tournament in 1958, when it was the site of the East Regional, with a capacity of 11,666. The arena was built seven years ago.
T-9. Liberty Hall, Louisville, KY
Organized games: 50 matches
Like several other notable arenas on this list, Freedom Hall hasn’t hosted the NCAA Tournament in decades, yet due to its prominence in the mid-to-late 1900s, it cracks the top 10 all-time. Freedom Hall hosted the Final Four in 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1967 and 1969, and hosted the NCAA Tournament when the tournament had just 23 teams. He ranks tied for third all-time with six national championship games played inside Freedom Hall.
Kentucky, California, Cincinnati, Loyola Chicago and UCLA all cut down the nets at Freedom Hall.