The countdown began five years ago when Nashville was named the site of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Thursday marked the first time the Music City put its stamp on the national championship.
NCAA officials, the Nashville Local Organizing Committee and Mayor Karl Dean unveiled the official logo of the 2014 Women’s Final Four at a small gathering at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown.
In more than nine months — or 282 days to be exact — Nashville will host a Division I national championship for the first time.
“What this means to me is it around the corner,” Dean said. “You can’t buy that type of exposure and to be associated with such a great event as the Women’s Final Four makes you proud, makes you proud as a mayor.”
The logo is simple, with no music notes or a lavish guitar embedded into a basketball. Logos for past host cities have featured pictures or icons relevant to the city — a fleur-de-lis for New Orleans last year, the Texas Star for San Antonio in 2010 and the Arch for St. Louis in 2009.
On the 2014 logo, below a gigantic blue “Final Four” are four small stars and the words, “NASHVILLE, Music City.” The style of the type was inspired by Nashville’s own Hatch Show Print, one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in the country.
“The logo is just fun for everybody to get to see it,” said Beth DeBauche, the commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference and one of three chairs of the NLOC. “It is beautiful and a good symbol for what is to come.”
What lies ahead is more fundraising, recruiting volunteers and developing a program aimed at creating activities and leadership seminars for youth. Tickets go on sale in the fall and the general public will have a chance to purchase tickets in all seating levels at the Bridgestone Arena. NCAA vice president of women’s basketball championships Anucha Browne made her fourth trip to Nashville — and first since the Music City Center opened last month. The NCAA appointed Nashville as a host city long before the multi-million dollar convention center had been finalized.
“I think it is just another validation in this city being so ready and poised to host the Final Four for women,” Browne said. “I think that the city and the state have a longstanding allegiance to women’s basketball. When I think about the history of women’s basketball, obviously the state of Tennessee always comes to mind. It was natural and easy decision to make because we knew the city would come together and support it.”
Tennessee has hosted the Women’s Final Four just once before — in 1990 in Knoxville. Before the Division I women’s golf championships in Franklin last year, Middle Tennessee had never hosted a national championship.
The 33rd Women’s Final Four will begin Sunday, April 6 with the semifinals and conclude with the championship game on Tuesday, April 8.
“Today is really fun,” DeBauche said. “To unveil the logo is symbolic of the start of the road. But we’ve been really anxious. We’ve been working since 2008 and there has been a lot of work that has been done to date. But the opportunity to say it is here, that we’re on our road and we can really engage the community, that is the fun part of it now.”