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Jacksonville lands NCAA track events, misses out on March Madness

FILE - In this March 14, 2012, file photo, a player runs across the NCAA logo during practice in Pittsburgh before an NCAA tournament college basketball game. A court decision the NCAA says will hurt college sports by allowing student-athletes to be paid vast sums of money will go into effect. That's after the Supreme Court declined Tuesday to intervene at this point. Justice Elena Kagan denied the NCAAs request to put a lower court ruling on hold at least temporarily while the NCAA asks the Supreme Court to take up the case.  (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
FILE - In this March 14, 2012, file photo, a player runs across the NCAA logo during practice in Pittsburgh before an NCAA tournament college basketball game. A court decision the NCAA says will hurt college sports by allowing student-athletes to be paid vast sums of money will go into effect. That's after the Supreme Court declined Tuesday to intervene at this point. Justice Elena Kagan denied the NCAAs request to put a lower court ruling on hold at least temporarily while the NCAA asks the Supreme Court to take up the case. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The NCAA awarded Jacksonville the 2023 and 2025 NCAA Division I track and field outdoor championships, but the city missed out on the newest batch of sites to host the NCAA men’s basketball tournament through 2026.

The track and field events are expected to attract hundreds of athletes and coaches, plus friends and family to the First Coast. The events will be hosted at the University of North Florida, where the event has been held five times previously and is scheduled to be held again in May.

According to a release by UNF, those previous championships have generated an estimated economic impact of nearly $8 million each time including more than 11,000 hotel room nights.

Hodges Stadium is one of just nine facilities in the U.S. to receive IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) certification. It is currently certified as a Class II facility though it is built to Class I standards.

The city previously hosted the NCAA men’s basketball tournament first and second-round games in 2006, 2010, 2015 and 2019, but failed to land any of the open spots through 2026. Some cities that were set to host the tournament in 2020, but did not when the tournament was shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, have been given sites for future tournaments.

The earliest Jacksonville can again host an NCAA basketball site is 2027, which would make an eight-year layoff, the longest gap between hosting since the construction of the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena.


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