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Sooner or later, the nation's best collegiate grapplers just might be coming to Philadelphia. According to Director of Athletic Communications Carla Shultzberg, Penn is mulling over the possibility of making a bid to host the NCAA Wrestling Championships sometime later this decade. Recently, however, there has been little movement within the Penn Athletic Department concerning the possibility of Penn submitting a bid to the NCAA, suggesting that a Penn attempt to host the tournament is no sure thing. Shultzberg said that the NCAA invited Penn to make a bid. According to Randy L. Buhr, Assistant Director of Championships for the NCAA, if Penn decided to go ahead and try for the Championships, it would have to fill out a detailed bid packet containing information on things such as Philadelphia-area hotels and venues. He added that the NCAA accepts bids to host the tournament in blocks of several years, and that right now it is only accepting bids for the years 2004 through 2007. Homes have been found already for the 2002 and 2003 competitions. Next year Rider College, Siena College and the MAAC will host the tournament in Albany, N.Y., and in two years, the Big 12 conference and the Kansas City Sports Commission will host the NCAAs in Kansas City, Mo. "It's open to anybody and everybody," Buhr said of the competition to host the 2004-2007 Championships, adding that several schools have already submitted bids. "[We'll] welcome a bid from any given city that is interested and feel they meet the bid specifications." One of those specifications strongly encourages that any institution making a bid to host the tournament has an extremely large building in which to stage the event. "A preference will be given to arenas with at least a minimum 18,000 seats," Buhr said. This would mean that, if Penn were to host the Championships, it would most likely have to be held at the First Union Center, the only indoor arena in the Philadelphia area that has the kind of seating capacity the NCAA desires. The matches would not be held at the Palestra -- the arena that the Penn wrestling team calls home holds less than 9,000. The NCAA Wrestling Championships routinely draw huge crowds. When then-Penn wrestler Brett Matter won a national championship at the 2000 tournament at the Kiel Center in St. Louis, Mo., he did it in front of nearly 17,000 fans. Further, if Penn were to host the competition, some of its smaller, yet essential tasks would be to coordinate ticket sales and make sure that the appropriate sporting equipment is provided for the grapplers. Based on recent history, the Penn Athletic Department would be no slouch if it came to hosting this NCAA championship tournament. In 1998, it celebrated 25 years of women's championship competition in the NCAA when it hosted the field hockey championship tournament. Last year, Penn hosted the women's crew championship. Perhaps the most important notch in Penn's NCAA belt, however, is its handling of last year's women's basketball Final Four. Penn and St. Joseph's were joint hosts of the tournament. If Penn were to try for the wrestling championships, the success of last year's Final Four, taken in tandem with the Penn wrestling squad's consistent national success, could help its case with the NCAA. As of now, however, nothing is set in stone.

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