The next week in Fort Worth will be one that city officials, chamber of commerce representatives and convention planners could only have dreamed of just a few years ago.
The city will be at the center of a major convergence of two super sporting events, a large convention downtown and four days of live national television broadcasts originating from the newest public space in the city center, Sundance Square Plaza.
Add good weather and filled hotels to the mix, and the central business district almost assuredly will be buzzing with local residents and tourists crowding downtown’s walkable streets, restaurants and bars.
Although the NCAA Final Four basketball games next Saturday and April 7 will be at AT&T Stadium in Arlington and all of the official events in Dallas, Fort Worth will receive a lot of attention because the ESPN sports network will broadcast from Sundance Square as it did during Super Bowl XLV in 2011.
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The network, which chose to come back to Fort Worth for its pedestrian-friendly downtown, will spend Tuesday through Thursday setting up and will broadcast live Friday through April 7, said Tracy Gilmour, director of marketing for Sundance Square.
ESPN will use Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week to dismantle the set, just in time for the April 10 start of the annual four-day Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival.
The same weekend of the basketball championship, which is expected to draw record-breaking crowds of more than 80,000 for each game, Texas Motor Speedway in north Fort Worth will host the Duck Commander 500 NASCAR race on April 6, and 150,000 spectators are likely to attend.
On top of all that, downtown will play host to a gathering sponsored by WorldVentures, a vacation and entertainment club meeting at the Fort Worth Convention Center, said Mitch Whitten, vice president of marketing and communications for the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The activities next week are what many city leaders envisioned several years ago when they decided to expand the convention center, support building a new first-class hotel nearby, promote more central city residences and continue to make downtown more pedestrian-friendly.
Their big dreams are coming true.