NCAA FINAL FOUR: FOR THE MEN, THE MADNESS OF ST. PETE
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).