Omaha won't have time to savor its weekend success with being an NCAA tournament host before it turns around and goes for more.
Kevin Sarver said it will do so, however, with momentum on its side.
"We'd like the event as often as we can get it, but I'm not sure how much pressure is on the NCAA to spread it around," said Sarver, tournament manager for the second- and third-round games that were played Friday and Sunday at the CenturyLink Center. "But I think if you based it on our report card for '08 and '12, we couldn't score any higher.
"For an event that involves months and years of planning, hundreds of very dedicated people and thousands of moving parts, I really believe we couldn't have done any better the last three or four days."
Sarver said Omaha plans to be just as aggressive with the next round of NCAA bids, which will cover everything but the Final Fours and first rounds for 2014 through '16. That deadline will come in the next few months, as compared to when Omaha hosted in 2008 and then had more than 14 months before putting together its bids for 2011 through '13.
Sarver said Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen and MECA President Roger Dixon will get together soon to create a battle plan.
Sarver, CU's associate athletic director, said one of the things Omaha must determine is whether to stick with bids for second- and third-round games or again shoot for NCAA regionals. In the last cycle, Omaha put together six proposals since it went after two different things in each of the three years.
"When we get to that point, we'll probably ask if 25,000 seats is the minimum and we shouldn't waste our time, or do you want us to bid for regionals," Sarver said. "If they want us to, we'd be happy to do it."
In this 2012 NCAA tournament, the regionals this week will be held at two NBA arenas (Boston, Phoenix) and two domes (St. Louis, Atlanta).
Despite checking in at 17,000 seats, Sarver pointed to the CenturyLink arena and adjoining convention center for a big reason behind Omaha again putting its best foot forward in hosting this year, consistent with the feedback it received in 2008.
"What helps us most is that the facility lends itself to putting on an unbelievable event," Sarver said. "It's really a second- and third-round site with a Final Four setup."
Sarver said he received numerous positive comments from veteran news media members covering the event. He said the same went for Jackie Carpenter, the NCAA staff member in Omaha, and LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva, the NCAA basketball committee member on site.
"Both of them had nothing but great things to say," Sarver said. "They just thought we pulled it off."
Omaha moved a handful of things up its priority list based on experiences from 2008, the first time NCAA games were played at the facility then known as Qwest Center Omaha. But it was also mostly behind-the-scenes stuff with teams entering the building or issues with bands and cheerleaders.
To help, the Omaha site also made Adrian Rider, Creighton's director of ticket operations, the assistant tournament manager to help deal with the all of the things included in the 400-page manual shipped out to hosts.
After the four second-round games on Friday, Sarver and officials met with the winning teams on Saturday. The best part is that he didn't hear any complaints about hotels, police escorts, courtesy cars — anything.
"For me, no news is good news," he said, "because if we hear stuff, it's usually a problem."
One new twist for Omaha was making the CenturyLink convention center one of its practice sites. Because the NCAA now sends its own floors to all sites, the Creighton home court was not being used, and Sarver said Stan Benis, the CenturyLink Center director of event operations, suggested making it one of the off-site venues.
All the NCAA asked was that it be put as far away from the main arena as possible, so it was placed in Convention Center C at the northern edge. Missouri used it as other teams didn't realize until later the convenience of it.
"You could pull a bus in, park three feet from the edge of the floor, get out and practice," Sarver said.
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