By Maria Saporta
So far, so good.
Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA — which is putting on the 2013 Men’s Final Four event in Atlanta, could not be more pleased with how the championship festivities are going. And he offered encouraging words about Atlanta’s chances of winning future Final Four championship events.
“I can’t thank this community event for putting on this big event,” Emmert told members of the Rotary Club of Atlanta at lunch on Monday. “It’s been spectacular. I don’t want to jinx it.”
Emmert was referring to the final game Monday night between the Louisville Cardinals and the Michigan Wolverines.
John Yates, an Atlanta attorney and chair of the Atlanta Basketball Host Committee and the Local Organizing Committee, said the city was honored to be hosting the 75th anniversary of the Final Four event. Yates, who interviewed Emmert, said he had heard several people describe the weekend’s events has being an “Olympics-like experience.”
At the end of the program, Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, asked Emmert about what would be the likelihood of the NCAA picking Atlanta for a future Final Four when it builds a new stadium.
“I had lunch with your mayor two days ago, and he was all over me,” Emmert said. “He has my personal email. You have been spectacular hosting the Final Four. You have a compact downtown. I have no doubt we’ll be back, and sometime soon.”
Sharon Goldmacher, president of communications 21 and executive director of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Final Four, said the next three years already have been set — Dallas in 2014; Indianapolis in 2015; and Houston in 2016.
Traditionally, the NCAA asks cities to bid in blocks of five years. Last time, 10 cities bid for the five years between 2012 and 2016. Those bids were entered in 2008.
“We will be bidding for the next bidding for the next bid cycle,” Goldmacher said.
Because the NCAA requires bid cities to host a regional competition the year before the Final Four so that it can experience a dry run of the facility, the transition to a new stadium could cause a little complication.
The new stadium is expected to open in mid-to-late summer of 2017, after the Final Four event is over. It’s uncertain whether that means that the earliest year that Atlanta could submit a bid for the Men’s Final Four would be 2019.
No matter what, Emmert couldn’t be happier with how Atlanta is hosting this year’s event.
“It’s been a fabulous experience,” Emmert said in a brief interview after his talk to Rotary. “I think the city has done an excellent job of managing the logistics, the hospitality and the security. It has made people feel welcome. I haven’t heard a single complaint.”
Emmert also is impressed with how close the major hotels are to the Georgia Dome.
“You also have a physical compactness that a lot of cities don’t have,” Emmert said, adding that he was pleased the new stadium would be built in the same vicinity.