The NCAA Tournament in Hartford, Connecticut
In 2019, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament returns to Hartford, Connecticut. The tourney is back there after just a two year absence, and the first and second round games of the 2019 tourney in Hartford will be played at the XL Center.
Chris Lawrence, who is the GM of the XL Center, summed up the excitement in an interview. "I just think it's a tremendous opportunity; one that's very well-deserved. It's a chance to continue to showcase the region as a staple of the Northeast Corridor of the country. We're looking forward to showcasing Hartford, to show we can pull this stuff off and do it well and set ourselves up for five or 10 years down the road."
Because of a NCAA rule that prohibits host schools from playing in tourney venues held at home, the University of Connecticut (UConn) is not eligible to play in the first and second round games at the XL Center. UConn has faced the same dilemma many times before, as Hartford has hosted the first and second round tourney games five times in the past. However, the city has not hosted a NCAA men’s basketball tournament event since 1998.
NCAA Tournament at XL Center
One of the reasons for the 20-year absence of the NCAA tournament from Hartford has been the lack of a viable venue to host the event. Originally called the Hartford Civic Center, the premiere indoor sports venue in Connecticut eventually changed its name to the XL center in 2007. With the name change came a substantial investment to renovate the facility. A major upgrade to the venue occurred a few years later and consequently, Hartford began to attract more sporting events, including the American Athletic Conference Tournament held at the XL Center in 2015 and 2017.
In 2010, the XL Center received a major upgrade in the form of a new scoreboard that was raised directly above the center of the basketball court. An enhanced high definition screen and aesthetic improvements that included a new bar area turned the venue into an attractive place to host the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The venue has the capacity to hold 16,294 fans for both collegiate basketball events.
Things to Do in Hartford During the NCAA Tournament
As the capital of Connecticut, Hartford bustles with many things to do. Fans attending the 2019 tourney should make room on their itineraries for a visit to the Mark Twain House & Museum. Finished in 1874, the opulent mansion features thousands of culturally and historically significant artifacts that includes the desk where Twain crafted his most popular novels.
Stored inside an ornate Victorian home, several furnishings dated from different eras grace the walls and shelves of Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. Art aficionados will find the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art to contain rare impressionist, as well as Renaissance Era, works of art. The Connecticut Science Center spans nine stories, which cover more than 150,000 square feet. As one of the most popular family friendly cultural venues in Hartford, the science center offers interactive educational exhibits that present audio, video, and live demonstrations put on by noted area scientists.
Located near the interchange of Interstates 95 and 84, downtown Hartford bustles with nightlife for fans of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The city also boasts a wide variety of ethic restaurants, including Italian gem Trumbull Kitchen located on Trumbull Street. Plenty of hotel rooms await eager fans visiting Hartford for the 2019 tourney.
March Madness 2019 Early Round Round Sites
The first and second round games for this year’s NCAA Tournament are taking place in eight exciting U.S. cities. To shop tickets in each of these locations, follow the links below.