Not everything for next April's NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four will happen indoors. Sure, there will be the big shootout at AT&T Stadium, but that's not the only fireworks being planned either.
With downtown Dallas as a splendid backdrop, the NCAA March Madness Music Festival will trumpet three days of live music on the former site of Reunion Arena, which housed Dallas' only other Final Four in 1986.
All three concerts will be free and open to the public and the performers will be announced in the coming months. A long list of previous participants of NCAA Final Four music festivals include the Black Keys, Zac Brown Band, Jimmy Buffet, Kenny Chesney, Kings of Leon, LL Cool J, Dave Mathews Band, Muse and Sting.
The announcement on Tuesday, November 5 was made on the Cloud Nine level of Reunion Tower, peeking over the green space where the festival will occur in early April 4-6, 2014. The AT&T Block Party will tip off festivities on Friday, April 4 (4-10:30 p.m.); followed by Saturday's Coca-Cola Zero Countdown (noon-9 p.m.) and Sunday's Capital One Jam Fest (3-10:30 p.m.).
Those in attendance at the announcement included Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings; John Scovell, Chair of the Local Organizing Committee when the Final Four was last staged in Dallas at Reunion Arena in 1986, and president of Woodbine Development corporation; Dan Gavitt, vice president, NCAA Men's Basketball Championships; Ron Wellman, Athletic Director of Wake Forest University and chair of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee, as well as several other members of the Men's Basketball Committee; Charlotte Jones Anderson, chair of the North Texas Local Organizing Committee, as well as its members.
"It seems like just yesterday that we were in Indianapolis selling the fruits of this region," Jones Anderson said, in reference to a sales pitch made to bring the Final Four to North Texas several years ago. [embedded_ad]
Wellman mentioned that he had attended last spring's NCAA Men's Regionals in North Texas, adding, "If that's any indication of the job you will do, we are VERY excited about the Final Four being in North Texas."
Recalling the previous Final Four long ago in 1986, Wellman spoke of the impact it had on future Final Fours.
"That was the first time that we had a custom-designed floor to use at the Final Four," Wellman said. "And every year since then, we have been using a custom-design floor. That's also the first year that commemorative tickets were used. I dare say that when you go around the Final Four this year in North Texas, the vast majority of people will have that ticket proudly displayed on their chest during the Final Four. That started in Dallas in 1986."
Wellman credits Scovell, as well as Rick Baker, president and CEO of the AT&T Cotton Bowl and executive director of the 1986 Final Four, for implementing those unique traditions.
Mayor Rawlings said "there's not a better spot for the location of the music festival, but also for history" than the old Reunion grounds. Rawlings, who attended the Final Four in 1986, says that land will be developed one day soon as the area grows. And that development is now in the hands of Woodbind.
As the son of Dallas' great goodwill ambassador, Field Scovell, John recalls stories of his father being urged to help Dallas get big-time basketball events. Scovell was a key to who played in the New Year's Day Cotton Bowl Classics for decades.
"We started chasing Final Fours in the 1970's," Scovell said. "This is a great opportunity for the city and region."
Scovell said the music festival will be the first use of the land since Reunion was razed.
Scovell is not the only one following the giant footsteps of his father. Dan Gavitt is the son of NCAA basketball legend Dave Gavitt, former Dartmouth and Providence head coach.
"With this now being the fourth largest media market in the country," Gavitt said, "it's a perfect location for an event this size. AT&T Stadium is state of the art; there's no better facility anywhere in the country, so we're thrilled to be having the games there. But also thrilled about the facilities for other events we'll be having in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and all over North Texas."
Gavitt doubts another 28 years will pass between Final Fours in North Texas.
"North Texas certainly meets all the criteria by which we select Final Four sites now," he said. "Minimum seating capacity for Final Fours now are 60,000, and there are only about 11 current cities and venues that can host the Final Four. So North Texas is in an incredibly competitive position for future Final Fours."
Will Charlotte Jones Anderson be attending all three live concerts? No matter the musical variety?
"Absolutely!" she exclaimed. "I have actually had the benefit of attending several Final Fours and seeing what goes on. It's such a unique environment. I know the quality of the entertainers that they are accustomed to procuring. It'll be different genres, and there'll be something for everybody."