Cowboys Stadium Officials Visit Atlanta In Anticipation Of Next Year's Final Four
A dozen North Texas officials are at the Final Four “to gather knowledge” for next year’s event at Cowboys Stadium, and they have “attended meetings" with current and future Final Four reps, and attended Saturday’s semifinal games, according to Brad Townsend of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. They have “closely monitored Atlanta’s efforts in aspects such as security, traffic, hospitality, Final Four-related community service initiatives and other ancillary events.” By “all indications, Cowboys Stadium will break the record for the highest attendance at an NCAA Tournament game, and has a very good chance of breaking the attendance record for any college basketball game.” NCAA D-I Men’s Basketball Championships Dir L.J. Wright said of Cowboys Stadium’s seating capacity for the Final Four, “My guess is it would be high 70s to low 80s.” Townsend noted the “largest crowd to attend a college basketball game is 78,129 for a 2003 regular-season game between Kentucky and Michigan State at Ford Field in Detroit” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/7). Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Paola Boivin notes Arizona State Univ. AD & VP/Athletics Steve Patterson and NFL Cardinals Exec VP & COO Ron Minegar were “studying the event as part of a Valley group considering putting in a bid for a future Final Four” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/8).
RAZE THE ROOF: GRANTLAND's Charles Pierce writes the Final Four is “going to be contested in one dome or another forever,” meaning the organization’s “signature event, and the one that pays almost all the bills, is going to be contested in buildings that are too big for basketball.” The fact remains that the “simple task of putting the ball in the basket is far too difficult while you're trying to play the game in Castle Dracula.” Baskets “look like they’re drifting in space” when placed in a dome, and the seats are “so distant that, when you shoot at them, the closest fans look like they're sitting behind the walls of an aquarium." Pierce: “Where do you go, seriously, when the size of the event makes the actual playing of the game impossible?” The size of the Final Four “forced the event to move into the domes, and playing the games in domes has completely destroyed the act most basic to the game itself.” This is “beyond absurd,” but also “beyond all recall.” The NCAA in its “infinite avarice has made its signature event almost unrecognizable as actual basketball” (GRANTLAND.com, 4/8).
HOST FOR ALL OCCASIONS: YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel noted the NCAA, for the “first time … staged the D-II and D-III national title games in the same city as the D-I Final Four.” On the off day between the D-I semifinals and “the championship game, the NCAA rented out an NBA arena, staged an old-school double header (two title games) and offered free admission to whoever wanted to come in and watch.” The result was “phenomenal,” as there was an “electric crowd of about 6,500 in the lower bowl" of Philips Arena for the D-III finale. Nearly 8,000 fans for the D-II final provided a “tremendous atmosphere, and one otherwise impossible to create in small college hoops.” NCAA President Mark Emmert said, "We'd never have gotten a crowd that big." Wetzel wrote, “The small-college guys were treated like big-school royalty. The hotels were plush. The meals top notch. There were police escorts for the team bus.” All four teams were “introduced on the court of Saturday's Final Four games at the Georgia Dome.” Amherst College G Aaron Toomey “even flashed a Syracuse shirt in honor of his dad, Kevin, an Orange alum.” D-III champion Amherst and D-II champion Drury will be honored during tonight's national title game between Michigan and Louisville (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/7).
ROCK ON: The ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION reported the AT&T-sponsored, three-day Big Dance Concert Series benefitted from “perfect weather all weekend and, despite big crowds downtown, no major incidents reported.” Centennial Olympic Park officials said that an “estimated crowd of 40,000” filled the park to capacity yesterday for a concert featuring Dave Matthews Band and Sting. The band performed a “nearly three-hour set” (AJC.com, 4/7). In Atlanta, Melissa Ruggieri noted Muse’s concert had “15-minutes of silence that occurred in the middle of the band’s hour-long set Saturday night at Centennial Olympic Park.” The NCAA’s Big Dance Concert Series organizers said that the issue was a “loss of power to one of the mix board generators.” There were “35,000 people stuffed into the park” for the event (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/7). Ruggieri noted Friday’s kickoff of the concert series, called the AT&T Block Party, "lured Saints of Valory, My Morning Jacket and the Zac Brown Band.” Police estimated that about “30,000-35,000 fans crowded the park and surrounding plaza” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/6).
OTHER FESTIVITIES: In New Orleans, Rachel Whittaker reported Univ. of Louisville Assistant AD/Facilities & Championships Josh Heird "won the sixth annual 4Kay Run Saturday morning, benefiting the Kay Yow Cancer Fund" (NOLA.com, 4/6). Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Jennifer Brett noted Juli Boeheim, wife of Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim, and Cindy Fox, wife of Univ. of Georgia men’s basketball coach Mark Fox, attended the annual Coaches vs. Cancer charity luncheon and boutique shopping event on Friday (AJC.com, 4/5).