Dayton First Four kicks off with The Big Hoopla

  • Published
  • By Mark C. Lyle
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Mark your calendars to attend the Big Hoopla on March 15, followed by the NCAA First Four Division I Men’s Basketball Championship games, March 17-18.

The Big Hoopla is a series of events for basketball fans to come out and join the excitement before the upcoming tournament. 

According to The Big Hoopla committee, Dayton, Ohio, remains the epicenter of college basketball because of the fans unwavering support.   

“I couldn’t be prouder to lead a voluntary organization that supports our community and most especially, Wright-Patt Airmen, and their families,” said Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Volunteer Chairman Terry Slaybaugh. “It is an honor to show these hard-working individuals that our region respects their efforts and wants to give back to them. Seeing the enjoyment of our military heroes at these games is such a rewarding experience for me and our entire LOC organization.”

Sunday, March 15, starts with The Big Hoopla Four Miler road race at Carillon Historical Park.  Check-in and registration begin at 9 a.m. at the park’s main building, 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton, Ohio. The race starts at 10 a.m.  You can pre-register at

The Big Hoopla LOC is giving all Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employees a 20 percent military discount if you use promo code: WPAFB20

All runners will receive a long-sleeved t-shirt and finisher medal. The four-mile course will start and finish at the Carillon Historical Park and contains breathtaking views of Dayton along the river and run past the newly transformed UD Arena. A post-race celebration will follow at Carillon.

The Big Hoopla STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Challenge at Chaminade-Julienne High School follows the race. This free basketball “hot-shot” and educational event is open to students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Check-in will begin at noon with opening ceremony at 1 p.m. Pre-registration is encouraged and now open at .   

The challenge combines the excitement of March Madness with the power and education of STEM. Free pizza, Hoopla t-shirts, First Four basketball game tickets and many other prizes will be given away.

Hands on exhibits will be on site to engage students from regional and national partners including the Wright-Patterson Education & Outreach program, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Institute of Technology and the 88th Air Base Wing.

The Big Hoopla will host a free Family Celebration Festival on Sunday, March 15 on Fifth Street in Dayton’s Oregon District. College basketball fans looking to share the excitement of the upcoming tournament can come to the Oregon District to enjoy a family-friendly event.

The festival will include:

  • A viewing area to help fans keep up with the latest news in sporting events
  • Food and beverage specials
  • A basketball court to practice free throws, grab a pick-up game, and family 1-on-1 challenges
  • Family activities will take place along Fifth Street
  • Hoopla Four Miler road race and Hoopla STEM Challenge award ceremonies

Festival events will be held under a tent to ensure attendees are protected in the event of inclement weather.

Teams will have NCAA First Four open practices at the UD Arena from 5 to 8 p.m. on March 16, and from noon to 3 p.m. on March 17.  Come watch the teams practice at this free, public event. Parking is free.

The NCAA Division Men’s Basketball Championship First Four Games will be March 17-18 at the UD Arena. The games begin at 6:30 p.m. and 9:10 p.m. on both days (Tip-off times subject to change.)

Last year, The Big Hoopla ticket program donated over 8,000 tickets to military members and their families to recognize and show their appreciation for the United States Air Force and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. 

The tournament will feature the Wright-Patterson AFB Honor Guard, National Anthem sung by a member of the Air Force Band of Flight, new recruit swearing-in ceremony and much more.

For more information on pre-game events visit For the latest updates on the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, visit


- March 15- Hoopla Four Miler at Carillon Park. Check-in and registration begins at 9 a.m., race begins at 10 a.m.

- March 15 - Hoopla STEM Challenge at Chaminade-Julienne High School, noon check-in, opening ceremony at 1p.m.

- March 15 - Family Celebration Festival at Dayton’s Oregon District, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

- March 16 - NCAA First Four Open Practices at the UD Arena from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and March 17, from noon to 3 p.m.

- March 17-18 - NCAA Division Men’s Basketball Championship First Four Games at UD Arena at 6:30 p.m. and 9:10 p.m. (Tip-off times subject to change.)