By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
March 29, 2013
The NCAA men’s basketball Final Four tips off next weekend at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Officials expect 100,000 people to visit the city from out of town, staying in an estimated 10,000 hotel rooms and bringing $70 million in economic impact.
The tournament has come a long way from its humble roots. When Jim Valvano’s North Carolina State Wolfpack won the national championship 30 years ago, the Final Four was played at University Arena in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which had just 18,000 seats. These days, the only venues considered to host the Final Four are massive indoor NFL stadiums. Games have been played at NFL stadiums every year since 2009, with next three scheduled for Cowboys Stadium (2014), Lucas Oil Stadium (2015), and Reliant Stadium (2016).
When the championship concludes next Monday, Greater Atlanta will stay in the sports spotlight. The Masters begins on April 11, and is expected to generate $110 million.