Wednesday, November 19, 2008

St. Louis Loses Out In Final Four Bidding

Bad news: St. Louis has been shut out in its attempts to land an NCAA Division I men's basketball Final Four in 2012-2016. New Orleans, Atlanta, Dallas, Indy and Houston were the big winners. St. Louis will now miss out on an estimated $40 million in economic impact and a huge amount of publicity. We also lost out in the 2003 bidding round, but it was suspected that the NCAA was waiting to see how St. Louis would fare in hosting the event in 2005 before awarding us any future bids.

As Vahe Gregorian of the Post-Dispatch says:

But even in a particularly competitive field, the second straight jilting calls into question whether St. Louis can maneuver to the front again and perhaps even whether it will be willing to try.

Dallas, Indy and Houston all have an edge in facilities, with glitzy new stadia. New Orleans and Atlanta do not have an advantage over St. Louis in this regard.

Think the condition of our downtown had anything to do with this decision? I sure do. When the selection committee sees the vacant hulking shell of St. Louis Centre and the empty Dillard's building just outside the Edward Jones Dome along with empty surface lots and a lack of vitality in many parts of downtown, that can't help.

A prosperous downtown would have helped our case immensely. The present condition of our downtown is the cumulative result of every company's decision to either move out of downtown or choose inferior suburban locations over downtown.

If we want to be competitive in landing events of this nature and attracting conventions and tourism, we're going to have to clean this place up.

Update: Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch has a nice blog entry about this subject - Link


Anonymous said...

I disagree with the assertion that downtown St. Louis was a handicap. The Men's Final Four was held in downtown St. Louis when downtown was worse off.

Downtown St. Louis is better off asthetically and amenity-wise now than it was when St. Louis was first awarded the 2005 FF.

Competition for these games is tough. Further, a city like Houston doesn't even have bars/entertainment around their venue.

I think the NCAA is just spreading the love. St. Louis should have bidded for 2013 and 2014 but didn't.

Brian said...

Definitely - I agree that there are several other factors that came into play. Like you said, the fact that we could only bid on three of the five years put us at a disadvantage right away. Weather is a factor too.

I'll still contend that the dome's immediate surroundings play a big role in this type of decision. While downtown is much nicer than it was almost four years ago, there is still plenty of work that needs to be done.

Who knows, maybe The Bottle District would have helped matters some had it actually been developed.