With the 2014 NCAA North Texas Four at AT&T Stadium only four months away, organizers are searching for 2,000 volunteers to help game-related events around the region run smoothly.
The volunteers will assist with activities such as youth basketball clinics in Arlington and Fort Worth, the March Madness Music Festival and Bracket Town theme park in Dallas, or distributing donated food and shoes to low-income families, said Amanda Whitelaw, who is overseeing the volunteer effort for the Final Four local organizing committee.
“This is such a fan-driven event and there is such excitement around collegiate athletics. There are so many free things and opportunities for the communities to get engaged with,” Whitelaw said. “I always joke that volunteers aren’t running the championship trophy on the court and they won’t be giving the pep talk in the locker room but there are a lot of integral roles they can play.”
The prestigious men’s basketball tournament offers fewer volunteers roles than when Super Bowl XLV came to North Texas in 2011. That event required about 10,000 volunteers, Whitelaw said.
“It’s a much smaller number of volunteers needed but key roles. They are such an important piece of the puzzle,” Whitelaw said. “It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Barbara Anderson, a college basketball fan who volunteered at the 2011 NCAA Men’s Final Four in Houston, has already signed up to help.
“I am very committed to helping the community. It’s just something that was instilled in me as a kid,” said Anderson, who lives in Weatherford. “I love the idea of this big event in my hometown and being part of the excitement and meeting people.”
Even though she’d love to see the Florida State Seminoles win the championship, Anderson said she’d volunteer no matter which teams made it to the Final Four.
“Right now it’s too soon to really be rooting for anybody yet. You never know,” Anderson said. “I’m going to wait before I start deciding who I cheer for.”
Volunteers who complete three shifts will receive an official 2014 NCAA Men’s Final Four polo shirt, jacket and cap and will be invited to a post-event volunteer appreciation party.
Fans, media and workers from across the country are expected to start arriving in North Texas as early as March 20 for Final Four-related events, which are expected to bring in an estimated $276 million to the Texas economy. Attendance at each of the three games at AT&T Stadium is expected to exceed 85,000, organizers say.
Before college basketball fans hoping to get to see the games for free get their hopes up, Whitelaw cautions that volunteers will not get to work inside AT&T Stadium during the college basketball semifinals and the championship game April 5 and April 7, nor will they receive guest credentials or tickets.
“There are not volunteer opportunities inside the stadium,” she said. “That is usually a big question we get.”