Sunday, March 14, 2010

Indianapolis booked up for Final Four

Signs welcoming basketball fans such as this one are scattered throughout downtown Indianapolis in anticipation for the Final Four that will be played nearby April 3-5.

Signs welcoming basketball fans such as this one are scattered throughout downtown Indianapolis in anticipation for the Final Four that will be played nearby April 3-5.


— So, Kansas fans, you’re already looking forward to the Final Four: Indianapolis, Lucas Oil Stadium, bars on Meridian and a weekend of revelry matched only by that wonderful trip to San Antonio a couple of years ago, having jammed the River Walk and left with a national championship trophy.

Steve Sneath says bring it on.

“My house is already full if they make it,” said Sneath, chapter leader for the Kansas University Alumni Association in Indianapolis, who can provide six beds for friends at his place. “Everybody’s called and reserved space. I’m out of room now. I need to tell people to look down the street.”

With tonight’s NCAA Selection Show expected to hold relatively little immediate drama — as a presumptive No. 1 seed, the Jayhawks almost certainly will be headed to Oklahoma City for the first and second rounds, where games will be played Thursday and Saturday — fans certainly will be looking ahead.

A common vision: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where the Road to the Final Four will end in early April, and a national champion will be crowned.

Not that you would have known that by walking around downtown Indianapolis last week. Consider some of the sights:

• A few signs welcoming “BASKETBALL FANS” on restaurant railings, hawking Bud Light.

• Posters wrapped around trash cans sported a cartoonish basketball, with a reminder to “Keep Downtown Clean.”

• A “Welcome NCAA Basketball Fans” sign, two floors above a larger “NOW LEASING” sign in new office building.

The only actual, visible Final Four reference anywhere proved to be fleeting: A Final Four logo flashing a few seconds at a time on an electronic message sign outside Lucas Oil Stadium, wedged between ads for the Hoosier Lottery, Firestone tires, Indiana Farm Bureau and 17 others.

So this is March Madness?

Don’t worry, promises Terry Ford, a local basketball fan who attended Indiana University. The fun is only just beginning.

“It’s just a continuous party,” he said, cautioning visitors to remember that bars close at 3 a.m. each day except Sunday, when they shut down at 12:30 a.m. “It’s the best sporting event we have.”

Wally Renfro, senior adviser to the NCAA president, said that as many as 70,000 people would be able to watch Final Four games in person, given the size of the football stadium being configured for basketball. Students will be able to secure seats “down on the floor, at both ends,” and for a “radically reduced cost.”

Renfro, who’s been working for the NCAA since 1972, also understands how KU fans might already be making plans, booking flights and securing lodging for the big weekend.

“Gosh, if I was them I would,” he said with a chuckle, before injecting a sense of reality into the approaching madness. “But it’s one of those things: Those of us who have been involved in sports for years know that that’s the reason we play the game. There are no absolutes in anything.”


Scott Smetana 12 years, 9 months ago

The final 4 does not belong in an NFL stadium... Period. I was at Detroit... it was terrible. How greedy can the non-profit NCAA get? If you're watching at home, it doesn't matter. But if you're thinking of going, consider this:

  1. They had to pump music from the band through the PA system so everyone could hear.
  2. Seats ANYWHERE in the football seats are terrible, a mile away.
  3. Seats behind the goal are below the floor and have Zero view but of photographer's rear ends.
  4. There are plenty of awesome NBA arenas around.
  5. Indy in April??? Whoopee. Keep it in a warm/fun place like San Antonio.

Lance Hobson 12 years, 9 months ago

Why are we talking about KU fans at the Final 4? We don't even know who we're playing and certainly haven't played anyone. Getting there is very difficult and KU isn't that much better than anyone else in the top 10.

BucknellJayhawk3 12 years, 9 months ago

I agree, I went to the sweet sixteen game last year, It probably would have been better if I were watching it on a couch with my best friends than up in the stands squinting (mind you, I was only midway back on the 1st level too). I then went to get closer at half time and went about 8 rows back behind the rim and had a problem watching the game there too because you are underneath the floor. There were a lot of people cheering but it still felt like there was an emptiness to the place. I was glad I went, but the view could have been a lot better.

Dan Edwards 12 years, 9 months ago

Agreed Smitty, I was there in San Antonio two years ago and I don't think any Final Four in the future will ever top that experience, even if we hadn't won the title. San Antonio is a perfect city for something like the FF because it's so self-contained. The Alamodome is an easy stroll from the Riverwalk (which is where everybody hung out when not at the games). The weather was superb and the vibe was electric--so many college basketball fans packed into one area (but yet it didn't feel overcrowded). I attended our previous FF appearance in New Orleans in 03 and while that was fun too (except for the championship game), it paled in comparison to San Antonio.

Thing is, I remember we were all saying at the time that we had better enjoy that experience because most likely there wouldn't ever be another FF in the Alamodome. Starting in 2009 the minimum seating for a FF arena is 70K seats with the new seating setup that debuted at Detroit a few years back (which all the regionals now use as well as the FF). Yes they pack in another 20K paying customers, but the views for a lot of those seats suck and the ambience is ruined. But as fans we have no choice but to get used to it or stay home, as I believe all of the FF's out to 2016 are in NFL stadiums:

2011 Reliant Stadium in Houston 2012 Superdome in New Orleans 2013 Georgia dome in Atlanta 2014 Cowboys Stadium in Arlington 2015 Indianapolis (again!!!) 2016 Houston (again!!!)

So I've never been to Indy and if we are so fortunate as to get to the FF this year then I will withhold judgement until I experience it for myself, but it's really hard to see how it or any of the other four cities in the next 7 years could surpass those three awesome days in San Antonio back in 08.

tennesseest 12 years, 9 months ago

Best & Worst Final Four sites of the past 15 yrs- best: 1) San Antonio 2) Indianapolis 3-tied) New Orleans/New York(minus traffic), Worst- 1)Twin Cities, horrible weather, bad site all around 2) Tampa/St. Pete- nice in theory, awful execution- no centralized location, The Trop is a joke 3) Detroit- bad weather, border problems were a pain in the, seats are a mile away from the game, bad atmosphere...

Warren 12 years, 9 months ago

You really don't go to the Final 4 to see the game well. You go for the atmosphere.

KU1992 12 years, 9 months ago

Just imagine how much worse the Mario's Miracle shot would look on magazine covers when the crowd is so far away it is impossible to see all the blank looks on their faces. I am tired of the NCAA ruining everything for some extra cash. 96 team field? Enormous football stadiums with all the problems posted above? No thanks.

swjhawk 12 years, 9 months ago

KU1992 has it 100%. Warren, after the first few beers it's all the same if you can't see the game. You can get the same atmosphere at Johnnie's.

Randy Glenn 12 years, 9 months ago

San Antonio cant be topped but Im willing to give Indy a chance. Hawk Fans will be there.

Helen Gross 12 years, 9 months ago

What is the seating like in Edward Jones Dome in St Louis?

mattvely 12 years, 9 months ago

PickleFuzz - What do you mean? EJDome has floor seats, mezzanine club seats, boxes and nosebleed. Looks like for hoops in EJDome they put in temp risers and block off a decent piece of the stadium. Get what you draw or what you pay for. I don't understand everyone complaining about going to live games...I just don't. Get the wallet out and pay for good seats if you don't want to be up high or simply sit at home (or Johnny's) and don't complain about it. I would love to see everyone in force in OKC, St.Louis & Indy. I will be there.... I prefer smaller venues like AFH, but when the demand is this high, why not allow people to sit up high if they are willing...not everyone thinks live sports is equivalent to watching at Johnny's like swjawk does. To each their own, but a few times a year I enjoy traveling and soaking up a weekend of fun, something 2hrs at Johnny's doesn't quench.

goshenjhawk 12 years, 9 months ago

So can anyone give Final 4 ticket advice to the newbie here? As a general rule do ticket prices keep going up as the tournament goes on? Specifically would I be better off to purchase tickets at the price they are now, or wait until after the Elite 8 weekend to make sure KU is in and buy then?

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