Positioning Dayton to put on a spectacular show around the NCAA First Four games — and secure them for the long-term — requires a lot of vision and financial resources.

While many community and business leaders have stepped up to support the event, few have made more of an impact than Heidelberg Distributing Co.

The Moraine-based beverage distributor, one of the largest in the country, is in its fourth year as a premier sponsor and has been one of the five largest contributors to The Big Hoopla since its inception. That includes supporting the Hoopla Ticket program — which donates tickets to local students and military personnel — and being title sponsor of the Hoopla Central VIP Lounge.

“Vail Miller Jr. and Heidelberg were among the first to sign on to the vision and they did so in a big way,” said JP Nauseef, chairman of the NCAA First Four Local Organizing Committee and The Big Hoopla. “Vail not only stepped up with resources, but he and his team were active on the LOC, playing an important role forming and executing core parts of the “Big Hoopla” experience. Vail and other leaders like him have provided leadership and commitment which allow efforts like the NCAA First Four-Big Hoopla achieve their potential for this community.”

Heidelberg CEO Vail Miller Jr. talked to the DBJ about what the First Four means to him and the community.

Q: Tell me about how you first became involved with the NCAA First Four effort locally?

A: I have great admiration and respect for JP Nauseef. When selfless leaders like JP present a vision, a local organizing committee of leaders and doers, and a set of reasons to believe, it is easy to say “We are in. What do you need from us? What can we do!?”

Q: What is it about the First Four that makes it worthwhile to devote resources — basically why do you sponsor it?

A: Our company was started here in Dayton on Stewart Street in 1938. Dayton is our home. If our community is not healthy, how can our company thrive? We cannot pick up and move our business, so starting with my great grandfather (founder), we have maintained a community mind set and giving strategy…



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