New York City’s Madison Square Garden has welcomed everything from big-time boxing to circuses, rock concerts to pro wrestling… but, in its 134-year history, it has never been the site of an NCAA wrestling championship.
The NCAA also selected St. Louis for the 2015 and 2017 NCAAs (the seventh and eighth time the Gateway City has welcomed the event since 2000), and Cleveland for the NCAAs in 2018, which last hosted the mat championships in 1998. These three cities were selected from a field of eight finalists.
The choice of Madison Square Garden is historic for a number of reasons. It’s not only the first-ever NCAA wrestling championship to be held at the midtown Manhattan arena; it’s the first collegiate championship in any sport at MSG in more than 60 years (the last being the men’s basketball final four in 1950).
While pro wrestling has long been a staple at the Garden, college wrestling is a fairly new phenomenon at the iconic sports facility, having made its first appearance with the initial Grapple at the Garden dual-meet tournament in December 2012... and, earlier this month, Grapple at the Garden 2.
Some college wrestling fans who plan their vacations for mid-March so they can attend the NCAAs each year may be a bit concerned about the selection of Madison Square Garden, fearing high prices for hotels, food and parking… not to mention NYC being a greater distance from heartland wrestling hotbeds such as Iowa and Oklahoma than, say, St. Louis or Oklahoma City.
Those individual concerns aside, having the biggest event in collegiate wrestling in the media capital of the world is an incredible promotional opportunity for the sport and its athletes. One only has to look back at the 2011 NCAAs in Philadelphia. Thanks to its easily-accessible-from-New-York location, a number of major newspapers and magazines that normally don’t cover college wrestling were on press row in Philadelphia that year, cranking out great coverage. One can expect even greater big-time media attention for the 2016 NCAAs.
Want to know more about future NCAA sites? In College Wrestling Examiner's early Dec. article about the NCAA announcement of the host cities for the 2015-18 championships (the 2014s were already scheduled for Oklahoma City), you'll find basic info on each venue, including its age and advertised seating capacity. What’s more, you’ll see which cities were tapped to host the upcoming NCAA Division II and Div. III mat championships.
What makes a good host? Check out the 2005 InterMat feature "NCAA championships: Pick a city and stick with it?" that details the thought processes in selecting a host city.
College Wrestling Examiner’s Year in Review: For the fifth straight year, College Wrestling Examiner will be taking a look at the Top Ten stories of the year. Now through the end of this year, we’ll be posting our choices for the ten most significant stories in the world of collegiate wrestling in 2013. Want to be among the first to know? Click on the “subscribe” button on this page, and you’ll be notified right away when a new story is posted.
Top Ten Stories for 2013 (so far):
- No. 10: College wrestling uses MMA, marketing ideas to build crowds
- No. 9: Ruth, Martinez, York College suspended, Campolattano ousted
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