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Arlington council OKs special zoning rule for NCAA Final Four weekend

The city will be on defense when the NCAA Final Four plays out April 5 and April 7 at AT&T Stadium.

The City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday night setting up a “special event zone” in a 1-mile radius around the stadium.

The zone will have special regulations on the sale and distribution of merchandise, temporary outdoor advertising displays, and other setups such as tents that could hamper traffic and take away from the city’s financial benefits from the event, Deputy City Manager Theron Bowman said.

Bowman, a former Arlington police chief, said the zone will resemble the city’s Super Bowl XLV “clean zone,” which he said was effective. The objective is essentially the same: to pay maximum attention to public health and safety.

“The experience from the Super Bowl is that the zone had a minimal effect on residents,” Bowman said.

This is the first time the city will host a Final Four. Bowman said planning for the event will be smoother because the city has already hosted major events including Super Bowl XLV, the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, and the 2010 and 2011 World Series.

About 86,000 fans are expected to fill the stadium for the college basketball semifinals and championship game. The games and official events are expected to bring in $786,542 in sales tax revenue.

The regulations say structures such as tents, canopies and inflatables cannot be set up for temporary outdoor events. For example, a merchant cannot set up a tent and sell T-shirts, Bowman said.

Sales from merchants not affiliated with the NCAA will also be prohibited. Restricting outside sales of merchandise will help the city reap tax benefits, he said.

Outdoor advertising displays such as portable signs, flags, banners, video screens, cold air balloons, electronic message boards, advertising trucks and building screens that could interfere with official NCAA events will be prohibited, Bowman said.

Violations will be misdemeanors subject to fines up to $500.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.