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NYC, Cleveland, St. Louis to host 2015-18 NCAA Div. I Wrestling Championships

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The NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will return to familiar host cities of Cleveland and St. Louis – and make a first-ever appearance in New York City – for 2015-2018, the NCAA announced Wednesday.

The NCAA also revealed cities that will host the NCAA Division II and III Wrestling Championships, including a number of sites which have welcomed the event in the past.

For the first time in its 134-year history, Madison Square Garden in Manhattan will host the NCAA wrestling championships, in 2016. It’s the first time any NCAA championship event has been held at the iconic arena since 1950 NCAA basketball Final Four. The present facility – the fourth to be called Madison Square Garden – was built in 1968, and has a seating capacity of 19,800 (basketball) to 20,789 (boxing).

Less than two weeks ago, the Garden hosted the Grapple at the Garden 2 amateur wrestling event which included a college dual-meet tournament featuring 16 teams, capped off with a wrestling match between Bubba Jenkins, 2011 NCAA champ for Arizona State, and Frank Molinaro, 2012 titlewinner for Penn State. In an audio interview conducted Wednesday by Takedown Wrestling’s Scott Casber, Amateur Wrestling News’ Jason Bryant cited MSG’s ability to accommodate eight mats, excellent video and sound systems, and accessibility via public transit as positives for the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Sponsoring school for the 2016 NCAAs at MSG will be Hofstra University.

Cleveland will welcome the NCAAs for a return visit in 2018… two decades after Ohio’s second-largest city hosted the national wrestling championships, in 1998. This time, the venue will be Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland. The facility, which opened in 1994 as Gund Arena, seats just over 20,000 for basketball. It has hosted the Mid-American Conference (MAC) men’s and women’s basketball championships for just over a decade. The MAC will be the sponsor of the 2018 NCAAs at “the Q.”

“Meet me in St. Louis” will be a familiar statement from wrestling fans as the Gateway City will host the NCAA Div. I championships twice – in 2015, and 2017 – in a venue that’s very familiar to college wrestling fans, Scottrade Center. Opened in 1994 as Kiel Center, the 19,000-seat facility in downtown St. Louis has hosted the college wrestling nationals six times since 2000, most recently, in 2012. The University of Missouri will serve as host college for the St. Louis NCAAs.

Cleveland, New York and St. Louis were among eight cities in the running to host the D1 mat championships. Cities that had been finalists that didn’t get good news today included Kansas City, Louisville, Oklahoma City (host for the 2014 NCAAs), Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.

Host cities for the Division II Wrestling Championships include St. Louis in 2015, Sioux Falls, S.D. in 2016, Birmingham in 2017, and Cedar Rapids in 2018.

Welcoming the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships will be Hershey, Pa. in 2015, Cedar Rapids in 2016, La Crosse, Wis. in 2017, and, in 2018, Cleveland.

Want a second opinion? InterMat columnist T.R. Foley weighs in with his thoughts on the cities selected to host the NCAA Division mat championships in his Dec. 13 Foley's Friday Mailbag.

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 an NCAA wrestling championships host city.

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