Sports event

New Orleans established the NCAA Final Four as a mega sporting event – ​​Crescent City Sports

A reporter watched feverishly as workers installed the Final Four’s portable seats at Caesars Superdome.

The NCAA even brings its own giant screens to dominate the field.

It was the Final Four on a grand scale. It became so because of the vision many years ago of two men.

One of them was Superdome public relations director Bill Curl, a visionary whose mind was always on what he could do to make events bigger.

What he hatched, along with the NCAA’s Tom Jernstedt, was hosting the NCAA Final Four in domed stadiums.

The first was at the Superdome in 1982. Four decades later, you can’t underestimate the contribution of Curl and his NCAA sidekick.

“These were the two guys who came up with the idea of ​​putting a basketball game in a domed stadium,” said Doug Thornton, executive vice president of ASM Global. “Until the 1980s, it had only been tried once.”

It was the legendary UCLA vs. Houston at the Astrodome in January 1968. The hall was packed, but all of the viewing that night was remote as the field was set in the middle of a cavernous arena.

Fourteen years and two months later, you could feel the energy in the Superdome. This weekend, the Final Four was taken to a whole new level.

It was now a mega event.

It almost didn’t happen.

When New Orleans was in contention for a Final Four, so was Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. In a 2015 interview, Curl said he suddenly felt disgusted with New Orleans’ bid.

“We were bidding against the Rupp Arena, which had just opened,” Curl said. “The people from Lexington made their presentation first, and when they walked out of the room, some of the NCAA committee members were in tears. I asked some of my NCAA friends what’s going on? And they said “just a heartfelt speech from Adolph Rupp.” I turned to our people and said, “Let’s go”.

As you well know, New Orleans always had that Final Four, and it produced the first of the legendary moments.

Michael Jordan’s winning shot against Georgetown was the first. Five years later, Keith Smart’s shot for Indiana beat Syracuse. Six years later, Chris Webber called the unfortunate timeout for Michigan when they had none as Carolina’s Dean Smith won his second NCAA title; both performed at the Superdome.

When the Final Four leaves here, it will go to Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio and back to Indianapolis.

All will host games in covered stadiums.

This weekend, with four schools that have won multiple NCAA titles playing for a championship, demand for tickets is high. It seems like everyone wants to be part of the Final Four.

In New Orleans, it’s very special.

“When you get off the plane in New Orleans, you know you’re at a big event,” Thornton said.