SBD/April 8, 2014/Events and Attractions

AT&T Stadium Final Four Capped By Record Attendance, But Accessibility An Issue

AT&T Stadium has already hosted a Super Bowl, a Final Four and two Pacquiao fights
A record-setting crowd for the UConn-Kentucky men's national championship at AT&T Stadium last night capped a "crazy, elongated sports weekend in North Texas, which was hosting its first Final Four" since '86, according to Madigan & Dickson of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. A crowd of 79,238 watched UConn-UK, which "set a new record" for the title game. Saturday’s attendance at the semifinals was "slightly higher at 79,444," and the three games combined for 158,682 fans, marking the "highest Final Four weekend attendance ever." In addition to basketball, the region "hosted two NASCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway" on Friday and Monday. Basketball event organizers said that they "couldn’t have asked for a much better Final Four outcome." Even a rainy Sunday "didn’t put a damper on the March Madness Music Festival, which was headlined by Bruce Springsteen in the shadow of Dallas’ Reunion Tower," as "thousands attended the three-day music festival." Meanwhile, "thousands flocked to downtown Dallas for the fan festival known as Bracket Town, and still others swarmed downtown Fort Worth’s Sundance Square, where ESPN set up its live, outdoor broadcast." Some fans "complained about the distance they had to travel between regional hotels and Arlington." However, NCAA VP/Men's Basketball Championship Dan Gavitt said that there were "no major concerns about traffic." Gavitt said of the event, "We feel like it’s been an unqualified success. We certainly feel like it’s gone quite smoothly" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/8).

WHAT WE LEARNED: In Dallas, Ayala, Farwell, Mervosh, Ramirez & Young write under the header, "5 Things We Learned From Hosting The Final Four (Including Who Hates Us)." AT&T Stadium is "a palace, but getting there "is a hassle," as it "lacks easily accessible public transit." Fleets of buses "helped, but some users complained about breakdowns and the long rides" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/8). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote the attendance record "defeats any fan enjoyment every time." But the "far-away feeling" for fans watching basketball in a dome is a "major drawback to the ticket-buying consumer who may be on the fence." Fans in the "best seats find their eyes focusing more on the video board than the event." Engel: "AT&T Stadium will retain its relevance because of its size, and that TV set" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 4/7). 

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY: GRANTLAND's Bryan Curtis wrote, "Somehow it was decided ... that just about every big game would happen in Arlington." In the last five years, Arlington has hosted a Super Bowl, a Final Four, two World Series, an NBA All-Star Game, every Cowboys home game, two Manny Pacquiao fights, the AT&T Cotton Bowl, some big neutral site college football games and the Texas high school football state championships. The first CFP championship game also will be played there in '15 (GRANTLAND.com, 4/7).
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