ALEXANDRIA – The Alexandria/Pineville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) will serve as an NAIA Opening Round host for the 64-team national tournament field for both men’s and women’s national brackets. The NAIA Men’s and Women’s Basketball National Tournament Opening Rounds will be held in the Rapides Parish Coliseum on March 12 and 13, 2021.
The site will be one of 16 men’s and women’s tournament sites around the country and will serve as a qualifying tournament to advance to the NAIA National Tournament finals in Kansas City (Missouri) for men and Sioux City (Iowa) for women.
“We are thrilled to hosts teams from our region for this multi-day tournament. The tournament is expected to bring around 3,000 spectators for an estimated economic impact of $385,000,” says Sherry Ellington, Executive Director CEO of the Alexandria/Pineville Area CVB.
The Alexandria/Pineville Area CVB, one of the four confirmed hosts to date, worked in conjunction with the Red River Athletic Conference to submit a bid as one of 16 national host sites for each men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. In completing the bid packet for the NAIA, a number of key partners promptly emerged to assist in the process. These partners include the Greater Alexandria Economic Development Authority (GAEDA), the City of Alexandria, the Louisiana Office of Tourism, Rapides Parish Coliseum, Rapides Parish Police Jury and Louisiana State University Alexandria (LSUA).
Additionally, by coordinating with the NAIA National Office, the host contract included a guarantee that both LSUA men’s and women’s teams will play at the site as long as the squads qualify for the national tournament through either an automatic qualifier or an at-large selection.
“LSUA takes great pride in working alongside strong community partners to pave the way for new events to be hosted in Central Louisiana,” said Adam Jonson, LSUA Director of Athletics. “In addition to the significant economic impact these activities contribute to the entire community, we believe that this selection as a national tournament opening round host site is both a testament to the caliber of events that come to CENLA as well as the brand identity that LSUA has earned among our national association.”
A new format for the national tournament comes as a result of the merger of NAIA Division I and II basketball classifications. Until the 2020-2021 seasons, two classifications have existed and the two divisions have hosted separate national tournaments with 32 teams qualifying for each men’s and women’s Division I and II tournaments. Those 32 teams would compete at different sites for a national title. Now, the 16 opening round winners will travel to Kansas City and Sioux City, for men’s and women’s national titles, respectively.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Alexandria/Pineville Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and the Red River Athletic Conference as host of men’s and women’s basketball national tournament opening rounds,” said Mike Higgins, Director of Championships for the NAIA. “We are confident the local organizing committee will do an outstanding job hosting our student-athletes.”
Teams will converge in Central Louisiana beginning March 10, 2021 for practice and a pre-tournament student-athlete banquet before games begin on Friday, March 12. The NAIA will assign teams based on national seeding, and it plans for each site to welcome teams from within the region, including Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, and/or Kentucky. However, it is possible for teams outside this footprint to travel to Alexandria for the national tournament event.
Event supporters are crucial to the success of the tournament, including “team hosts” which will assist in welcoming the visiting teams to Central Louisiana. Event sponsorships are also available. For more information, please contact Sam Dangerfield (442-9546 or firstname.lastname@example.org) with the Alexandria/Pineville Area CVB.