Throughout the season, Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie constantly preached to his team, “We gotta get to Dallas.”
I asked UConn center Phillip Nolan if Ollie ever said, “We have to get to Arlington!”
“We basically all knew what he meant,” Nolan said with a laugh.
Did the players actually know that the stadium where the Final Four is being held is actually in Arlington?
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“I heard someone say it,” Nolan said. “But I didn’t know it before this trip, though.”
This is the “North Texas Final Four,” but it may as well be any place but Arlington, and that stinks.
Arlington is enjoying the benefits of hosting these massive events in its back yard, but it is not getting the credit or the residual business. City leaders who had the foresight to push for this building should be commended.
They should also be criticized for not including more infrastructure to secure some of the surrounding business to the main event.
People may criticize Dallas city officials who blew off Jerry Jones’ demands to build a new stadium in that city, but those same city leaders also can smile a bit, too — they are getting most of the business without paying an extra dime to hold the actual event.
It’s a first-world problem, but this was always going to happen when the city of Arlington and Jerry agreed to a deal back in 2005 — Arlington footed the $300 million-plus tax bill and Dallas or North Texas would receive the name-recognition and most of the residuals.
Thank God former Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief lured ESPN to Fort Worth for the Super Bowl in 2011. The four-lettered TV network is again back in Sundance Square.
The March Madness Music Festival is at Reunion Park in downtown Dallas. Most of the major “events” outside of the main draw are in Dallas or Fort Worth, from the media party to Bracket Town.
The same thing happened for the Super Bowl here in 2011.
Of course, this happens in other places and this reality was completely predictable. The Washington Redskins play in Maryland. The New York Jets and the New York Giants play in New Jersey. The San Francisco 49ers’ new home will be in Santa Clara.
Until Arlington increases its four-star hotel capacity and adds more nightlife, Fort Worth and Dallas will have the parties.
Before walking onto the main floor of AT&T Stadium, there is a blue table with a white piece of paper that reads, “Courtside Drink Regulation.” The person who came up with this is the same person who calls a sales rep an “account executive.”
All drinks must be inside an NCAA-approved Powerade cup, just in case the TV cameras catch it.
The NCAA is akin to the Olympics, because it still clings to the faint glimmer of amateurism supported by corporate sponsorships.
Like the Olympics, when fans walk into AT&T Stadium they will see no corporate sponsors anywhere other than AT&T Stadium. All of the ads are covered, thus keeping up the charade that the Final Four is somehow a cute little nonprofit little league basketball game run by the local PTA.
The only sponsors you will see are the big ones that paid the NCAA millions — Coke, AT&T and Capital One.
Scouting cheap seats
Cherie Riley and her 13-year-old son, Logan, of Colleyville attended Friday’s free practices, and scouted the “cheap seats” in the 400 level to determine if buying a ticket to the Final Four was worth it.
Cherie noticed the market for tickets to the game are dropping to about $190 for the three-game package. And the seats are not terrible.
“It’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” Cherie said. “When we came up here, I thought the players were going to look like little ants.”
New job for good guy
College basketball is littered with some unsavory characters, and there are plenty of good guys as well — Jim Christian is one of the good ones. Whether that means he can thrive in the cutthroat world of the ACC is another matter.
On Thursday, Boston College hired the former TCU men’s basketball coach after he spent the past two years at Ohio, where he led the Bobcats to one NIT appearance.
He spent four seasons at TCU, 2008-12, where he led TCU to its lone winning season in the last nine years. He left TCU in 2012 for a variety of reasons, primarily being he is from New York and played college ball at Boston University before transferring to Rhode Island.
BC has been a monster job; it hasn’t been to the tournament since 2009 and has had two winning records in the last seven years.
Christian is a good guy, a good coach, but whether he can be good at this level is another matter.
“I’d say it was the lowest point for us.” — Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin on losing to UConn by one point on Dec. 2. Florida’s only other loss was at Wisconsin (a Final Four team) by six on Nov. 12.
Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog at www.star-telegram.com/sports/.