I went out to AT&T Stadium this morning for a press conference regarding the 2014 North Texas Final Four, which is coming in April. Mostly it was … a press conference. Nothing much earth-shaking happened. I didn’t bug the speakers — Charlotte Jones Anderson (chair of the North Texas Local Organizing Committee; Jerry’s daughter), Dan Gavitt (vice-president, NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships), and Ron Wellman (Wake Forest athletic director and chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee) — for a one-on-one after, mostly because I don’t work for a local TV station and also because my ex-wife and I had to make the tough decision to put our 13-year-old dog Parker down earlier in the morning and I wasn’t sure if I would start crying. Sorry if my real talk scares you. Anyway, a few notes.
First off: the 2014 Men’s Final Four will be played at AT&T Stadium on Saturday, April 5, and Monday, April 7. It is sold out, but they made a point to talk up the NCAA’s Ticket Exchange service, which is their sort of proprietary StubHub, I guess.
Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck gave a brief recitation of the city’s bragging montage since AT&T Stadium came to town, promising more to come in 2015. Maybe I spaced out, but he didn’t mention that the first college football national championship game will be there, which seemed odd.
Brad Sham hosted. He talked about his history with the Final Four (hosting the studio show, doing play-by-play for the radio broadcast) and said he considers it the best sporting event in North America, because it “never, ever, ever disappoints.” “Sorry, Charlotte,” he added, which I guess was in reference to the Super Bowl, and not the Jones family’s shadow ownership of the NBA.
Jones Anderson, Gavitt, and Wellman said a lot of things, but generally it was all boilerplate, so I won’t bore you with any of it. Important things to remember, if you wish to remember them: there will be a three-day March Madness Music Festival (in April, so it’s like Oktoberfest in September, I guess) during Final Four weekend. It will be held at the former site of Reunion Arena. Based on previous attendance, they are expecting a crowd (over the three days) in the neighborhood of 150,000. The Convention Center will host Bracket Town. WHAT’S BRACKET TOWN? you frantically ask because I just accidentally hit the caps lock key. Well, it is “the Ultimate Final Four Fan Fest, offering over 350,000 square feet of family-friendly activities. A budget-friendly, four-day indoor interactive event” and then I stopped cutting-and-pasting. Could/should be fun.
They also discussed a few other events, but the only one that stuck in my mind was the one wherein a gang of kids run from City Hall to the Convention Center, all dribbling basketballs. As a coach of youth basketball, I can 1,000-percent assure you that the majority of the running will be chasing down loose basketballs. If you are easily annoyed (or not so easily), I would steer clear of this one. Maybe even if your kid asks. Figure out some sort of trade. You do ____ in exchange for not doing this. That’s as far as I can take you. Have to fill in that blank yourself.
Oh, for the first time ever, the Final Four will include a media party. You probably don’t care about that. It will be on the set of Dallas and they will give the Blackie Sherrod Award to Verne Lundquist. I would like to go to the media party so I can meet Uncle Verne, because he is a total boss. Just throwing that out there, if Tony Fay or anyone has me on Google Alerts.
Rolando Blackman was there. He was my favorite Dallas Maverick when I was a kid, so that was pretty cool.
The plastic cups AT&T Stadium uses as throwaways for the lemonade and water they provided are maybe 90 percent as nice as any drinking vessel I have in my house, and those are just what they have for one-time use. The cookies in ribbon-tied mesh bags with 2014 North Texas Final Four logos on them were like eating cookies topped by a credit card. I’m semi-concerned that I ate one. I felt like a real sportswriter, just eating whatever was in front of me.
There were a few dozen tables set up on the field for some luncheon after the press conference. I don’t know if it was related. I guess so, though I was obviously not invited. Before the presser, they were set up on one side of the field. I looked down to the field when I was leaving. They had all been moved to the other side. That must have been an absolute whip.