Special event organizers foolish not to use downtown Fort Worth more

Posted Monday, Apr. 07, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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engel To all future organizers of major national events for AT&T Stadium — swallow your pride, do the sane thing and use Fort Worth to your advantage.

I am looking at you, planners of the Academy Of Country Music Awards, when you throw your hee-haw bash here April 19, 2015.

The NCAA made a point to make this Final Four a Dallas event, and once again the adoring national media complained that North Texas is “too spread out,” and a “concrete jungle.” Water also tends to be wet.

The only cities that routinely hold major national events that can avoid this criticism are Phoenix in the dead of winter, Los Angeles and Miami. Every other destination needs to be centrally located and pedestrian friendly or the whining will persist.

With more high-dollar restaurants, nightlife and a wider selection of bigger hotels, Dallas was the easy choice for the NCAA. But Dallas is wretched for pedestrians and is a logistical migraine for fans or media trying to move from A to B.

Everything requires a car and money to park. It’s a hassle.

Fort Worth is the better spot, at least for the national media. There is a reason ESPN anchored in Sundance Square both for the Super Bowl and Final Four.

One more high-dollar hotel would help, but there are enough restaurants, bars and nightlife to justify putting the media, a team or more events here. There is ample convention space, too. To ignore using this foot-friendly area more is short-sided on the part of organizers.

There is nothing event planners can do about the wretched weather that has dogged AT&T Stadium’s major events thus far — Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Game, Final Four — but there are some options to make things a little bit easier for those who are coming to “North Texas.”

Don’t be stupid, swallow your pride and use Fort Worth.

Cal to La-La-Land?

Kentucky coach John Calipari signed an eight-year extension worth $37.5 million in 2011, and it should keep him in Lexington until 2019. But as we have seen repeatedly in the past with coaches and their “long-term” extensions, they don’t quite last a long time.

Rumors are flying that Calipari will return to the NBA after the season is over.

Former Kentucky star guard Rex Chapman tweeted on Monday, “Word is — win or lose 2nite — it’s a #DoneDeal … Cal 2 La-La-Land 2 coach Mamba’s Lakers.”

The Lakers will certainly be looking for a new coach to replace Mike D’Antoni, and are expected to re-tool their roster with a lottery pick.

With the exception of SMU coach Larry Brown, college coaches who jump to the NBA rarely work because the rosters they inherit stink. Lon Kruger, Jerry Tarkanian, Butch Beard, Leonard Hamilton and Mike Montgomery, just to name a few, are ex-college coaches who bombed in the NBA.

Calipari flopped when he left UMass for the NBA. He led the New Jersey Nets from 1996-99. He was fired 20 games into his final season, when the Nets began 3-17. He had one winning season and went 0-3 in one playoff series.

The only reason he should leave Kentucky is if he is bored.

NBA bound

Immediately after Kentucky last won the national title in 2012, the entire school declared for the NBA draft. Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were the top two picks of the 2012 draft, and they were joined by teammates Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller.

BTW — Davis, who plays for the New Orleans Pelicans, was at Monday’s game.

This Kentucky team is expected to lose forward Julius Randle shortly and, according to a few mock draft websites, teammates Willie Cauley-Stein and James Young are expected to go as well. Do not be surprised if 6-foot-9 freshmen forward Marcus Lee, 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Alex Poythress and 7-foot freshman Dakari Johnson leave early, too.

The lone player expected to be drafted from Connecticut is guard Shabazz Napier.

Sports links politics

Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are on the opposite sides of the political aisle but their love of sports allows them to sit side by side.

Clinton, who as governor of Arkansas was a regular at Razorbacks games, attended Monday’s game in a suite and sat next to the man who replaced him in the White House.

To Clinton’s right was Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Bush has been attending SMU men’s basketball home games and his passion for sports is well documented.

Sitting in front of the former presidents were Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and quarterback Tony Romo.

Romo’s back looked fine.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @macengelprof And The Big Mac Blog

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