This year’s Final Four men's basketball tournament will tip off Saturday before the city and the NCAA finalize a pending deal to assure the event is played here every five years for the next 30 years.
The long-term deal, which has been in the works for months, is very close to being signed, said officials for the NCAA and city’s Capital Improvement Board, which owns Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indiana Convention Center and Conseco Fieldhouse.
The agreement also will mean Indianapolis will be a regular host of the the women’s Final Four, and men’s and women’s preliminary-round tournament games through 2039.
This is supposed to be the first year of that 30-year deal.
“It’s in the hands of the attorneys,” said Greg Shaheen, NCAA senior vice president of basketball and business strategies, who added that the contract has essentially been hammered out.
The deal has taken so long to complete, Shaheen said, because it’s “complex.”
“We anticipate that [the deal] will be completed some time soon after the Final Four,” said CIB President Ann Lathrop, who added that she has no concerns over the long-term deal falling through.
There was speculation that the pact was being held up due to the CIB’s financial difficulties, which surfaced over the last two years, but both sides say that isn’t the case.
To assure this weekend’s games would go off without a hitch, the NCAA and CIB signed a one-year deal March 19 to cover insurance, indemnification and liability issues related to the event.
The agreement stipulates that the CIB will pay for primary coverage for liability insurance, with the NCAA providing the secondary coverage. The CIB and NCAA will pay for its own worker’s compensation insurance, and both parties will also carry event-cancellation insurance. If it is of no fault of the NCAA, and the Final Four must be moved, the CIB agreed to pay the costs of moving the event.
Shaheen said the long-term deal will govern the NCAA’s use of Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse and the Indiana Convention Center during future Final Fours and preliminary-round games.
“This is the first time we’ve entered into a long-term deal like this, so there was a lot to go through,” Shaheen said. “The long-term deal isn’t like an ordinary Final Four lease agreement. If that was the case, this deal would have been done a long time ago. This is a deal that’s completely unique to Indianapolis.”