UD Arena will host OHSAA basketball championships through 2026

May 2—The Ohio High School Athletic Association boys and girls basketball state championship games will take place at UD Arena in 2025 and 2026, OHSAA Commissioner Doug Ute said Wednesday.

The OHSAA picked up an option to extend its deal with the University of Dayton for two more years.

"That place is awesome for high school sports," Ute said, "and the community is good to our people."

UD Arena first hosted state championship games in 1986 and 1987. In 2020, the OHSAA announced the girls state championships would move from Columbus to UD Arena in 2021, 2022 and 2023. A limited number of dates available at the Schottenstein Center and St. John Arena made the move necessary.

Then in February 2021, the OHSAA announced it would also move the boys state tournament games to UD Arena that year because St. John Arena was unavailable during the pandemic. Later in 2021, the OHSAA signed a three-year contract to play the boys and girls games in Dayton from 2022-24.

By 2026, UD Arena will have been the site for the state championship games for six straight seasons.

There will be some changes coming to the state tournaments in 2025, however. With the OHSAA moving from four divisions to seven divisions in basketball, it expects to play state semifinal games in each division at different neutral sites around Ohio a week before the championship games. That means instead of hosting 24 games over two weekends, UD Arena will be the site of 14 games — seven boys and seven girls state title games.

The OHSAA announced in February it would add divisions in soccer, basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball. On Tuesday, it released a list of of the new divisions in boys and girls soccer (five divisions instead of four) and girls volleyball (seven divisions instead of four). The basketball lists will be released at a later date.

There will be a difference in the way the volleyball, baseball and softball tournaments are held. Those tournaments will still have semifinals and championship games on the same weekend, but the semifinals likely will take place at different sites than the championship games. They will still be held on the same weekend and in the same area.

In past years, all final four teams played at the same site. Additional games with more divisions makes it more difficult to fit those games into the same window of time. If the OHSAA did play all the semifinal and final games at one site, they would need more days, and that would require some teams to stay on the road longer. Travel costs would rise.

"We can't have seven divisions go in and play semifinal games and final games in three days," Ute said, "and we don't want teams down in Dayton for five days or something."

What the OHSAA plans to do in volleyball is play some semifinal games at Wright State's Nutter Center, where the semifinals and finals have been played for many years, and other semifinal games at local high schools, such as Vandalia Butler, Fairmont or Fairborn.

"So you're going to have your state semifinals in the same area," said Tim Stried, the OHSAA's director of media relations, "and then the winners all play in the Nutter Center. That's the current model we're thinking of for baseball and softball, too. All of our baseball and softball state tournament teams still go to Akron, and we play the state semifinals around there at the University of Akron or Kent State or there are some high schools that have turf up there and we could play there. Then the winners play in our state championship venues."

The OHSAA came up with the changes by talking to coaches in each of the sports. The baseball, softball and volleyball coaches wanted their teams to have the typical state tournament experience of traveling to the Dayton or Akron areas and staying overnight between the semifinals and final games.

Talks with the basketball coaches went a different direction. They shot down the idea of playing semifinals early in the week and the championship games on the weekend, as is done in lacrosse.

The semifinals would be played at some of the state's better arenas: Bowling Green's Stroh Center; Ohio's Convocation Center; Xavier's Cintas Center, etc.

"They want a separate weekend for the state semifinals," Stried said, "and then the winners come to the University of Dayton the following weekend for the state finals."