HARTFORD -- Hartford will play host to two rounds of NCAA men's basketball tournament in 2019.
The NCAA released its 2019 schedule Tuesday and selected the XL Center to host the first and second round of the tournament.
UConn will be the host school for the games, which will be played on March 21 and 23 in 2019.
The NCAA games will mark the return of NCCA Men’s Basketball competition to Hartford for the first time in 21 years. UConn previously hosted the NCAA men’s games at the XL Center in 1983, 1985, 1988, 1990 and 1998.
“I'm thrilled that March Madness is coming back to Hartford after so many years,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. “This is huge news for Connecticut and for Hartford, and we'll be ready to welcome fans from across the country, watch some great basketball, and show off our Capital City. I want to thank the NCAA for choosing Hartford, and we look forward to working closely with them as we get ready to host a great tournament."
"If we can get out from underneath those fiscal clouds, those clouds of budget crisis, I think this city is poised for turnaround that we haven’t seen in a long, long time," said Bronin.
"One of the great things about the NCAA tournament also, is that theres a day off in between rounds, so not only do we have a chance to showcase the XL Center, what we have here from a sports standpoint, but we can also show all of our great cultural assets, our entertainment area over on front street 5:01 all of our great restaurants, all of our great museums," said Brian Boyer, VP Marketing and Communications Metro Hartford Alliance.
“The NCAA’s announcement that they are choosing Hartford to host the men’s basketball tournament for the first time in over twenty years is proof positive that our state and our capital city remain attractive destinations for large-scale events like this," said Gov. Malloy. "Above all, this is exciting news for businesses who will benefit from the increased economic output that a tournament of this size will bring to the region."
“Today’s announcement is exactly why we need to ensure that the XL Center continues to function as a state-of-the-art, modernized facility well into the future. Hosting everything from concerts to conferences to major sporting events, the XL Center is an important regional economic driver, generating tax revenue, supporting the surrounding business district, and creating jobs for residents,” said Malloy.
"The last time the tournament was here was in '98 and we opened in '96, so we were only a couple years old, What I remember was how busy it was, all day long," said Steven Abrams, owner of Max Downtown.
H. Scott Phelps, President of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau said, "These major collegiate events will generate millions of dollars in revenue for our state as the teams, officials, alumni, families and fans will travel here from across the country and stay in our hotels, dine at restaurants, shop in retail establishments and enjoy our attractions. In addition, local residents will have the opportunity to enjoy first-class sports competitions right nearby."
The American Athletic Conference selected Hartford's XL Center to host the 2017 men's conference tournament.
In addition to basketball, Rentschler Field in East Hartford was chosen to host the Division I Men’s Lacrosse Quarterfinals on May 18-19, 2019 and the Final Four in 2021 and 2022. Fairfield University, who currently hold eight Colonial Athletic Conference Championship titles, will be the host school for the tournament.
For more information to the 2019 NCAA schedule, click here.