While the men turn a stadium into a basketball venue for the Final Four, the women do something entirely different for the NCAA: they take a big-name arena and give it a Final Four flair.
“I don’t even think about it in terms of men versus women,” said Dave Brown, chief operating officer and general manager of American Airlines Center, Dallas, host of the March 31-April 2 Women’s Final Four, told Venues Today. “I know it is different, but in a lot of respects, it is a lot the same. I think about it in terms of the Final Four.”
As Brown went on to say, planning for the event includes over 50,000 visitors flocking to Dallas for the three-day event even though American Airlines Center hosts 19,000 inside.
Learn some more details about the Women’s Final Four via Tim Newcomb’s Venues Today article:
Brown said the center first bid on the Final Four six years ago and were “pretty shocked” when it didn’t come through. At that point, Brown and the supporters of the bid regrouped and bolstered its women’s sports resume by bringing in early-round women’s tournament games in 2011 and 2013 and the Big 12 Conference helped enhance the center’s resume by moving the women’s basketball championship to the venue in 2013 and 2015.
Three years ago, American Airlines Center bid again. “We showed them our sincerity in terms of how much we wanted the Women’s Final Four,” he said. And the NCAA responded with the 2017 tournament.
With the tournament in hand, it was time to get to work in preparing to host the event, which included monthly two-day meetings with the NCAA to go over everything from operational aspects, ticket sales, security, setup of the building and all the associated events, such as the Tourney Town festival that sets up outside the center in one of the parking lots. That event includes basketball interactive experiences, live entertainment and merchandise. “There is a lot more to it than the game itself,” Brown said.
Plenty of additional work comes along with hosting a Final Four, but for American Airlines Center, the work will pay off in the long run. “Do we hope it positions us for future competitions? Absolutely,” Brown said. “I think we would be very disappointed if we didn’t (host more tournament games). It is a ton of work and commitment, and we are not doing it to be one and done.”
Along with the potential to host future NCAA basketball, whether early-round men’s or women’s, regional rounds or another Women’s Final Four (the Men’s Final Four is staged in stadiums), Brown said the area loves basketball and Dallas craves the opportunity to host it whenever possible. This is our first, and it is fun to work on something different. It is something you don’t get to do very often.” After all, Brown is talking about hosting a Final Four. And he doesn’t care if it is men’s or women’s.