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NCAA FINAL FOUR: FOR THE MEN, THE MADNESS OF ST. PETE
Published March 25, 1999
Despite asking CBS to relocate a platform to avoid blocking seats, NCAA Dir of Div. I men's basketball championships/administration Bill Hancock called yesterday's tour of Tropicana Field "the smoothest ... walk-through we've ever had." Hancock: "Every question I asked, they had already discussed and answered" (ST. PETE TIMES, 3/25). HOOP TALK: Personalities from ESPN, CNN/SI and Fox Sports Net descend upon the city starting today, according to Ernest Hooper of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. ESPN will have one of the larger sets, as Chris Fowler, Dick Vitale and Digger Phelps will host daily segments from The Pier in St. Petersburg. "The Sports Reporters" will also air from The Pier on Sunday, with host Dick Schaap, along with Mike Lupica, John Feinstein, Bill Conlin and Fresno St. coach Jerry Tarkanian. CNN/SI will set up at NCAA Hoops City in the Tampa Convention Center (ST. PETE TIMES, 3/24). During the games, CBS "will strategically place" celebrities from its shows in the crowd at Tropicana Field, including Ken Olin of "L.A. Doctors," Craig Kilborn of the "Late, Late Show" and Kevin James of "King of Queens." Actors Jack Nicholson and Kevin Costner and former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley are also expected to attend (ST. PETE TIMES, 3/24). CORPORATE BACKING: On CBS MarketWatch, John Thorsberg reported on the NCAA's corporate partners, who range from AmEx, GTE and Compaq to GM, Pepsi and Sears. Overall, about 25% of the ads during this year's tournament on CBS were purchased by the corporate partners (CBS MarketWatch, 3/21). NOTES: To combat illegal ticket scalping, Tropicana Field is stationing 140 private security guards and 30-40 police officers inside and around the dome during the games. Undercover detectives dressed as college basketball fans will escort anyone caught scalping tickets off facility grounds (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/24)....Though Tropicana Field seats 40,500, Ohio St. Univ., along with the other three schools in the Final Four, will only receive 3,500 tickets each. Of those, 1,400 will be distributed in an OSU ticket lottery, while the rest will be used for athletic department and university officials, boosters and travel packages. Face value of the tickets is $105 (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/24). ...In Chicago, David Schwartz writes that the Big Ten has earned $8.9M, the "biggest postseason basketball payout ever," for placing seven teams in the NCAA Tournament and winning 13 games through the first four rounds. The revenue will be distributed evenly among the 11 Big Ten schools (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/25)....A 19-year-old CA teenager, Alicia Brown, will have a chance to win $1M in the Gillette 3-Point Challenge, to take place at the Tampa Convention Center between Saturday's Final Four games (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/25).