By David Pendered
In 2008, Atlanta won the bid for the Final Four with a campaign theme of “1,000 steps.” On Sunday afternoon, the plan seemed to be a success.
The densest crowds were gathered around the festival in Centennial Olympic Park. Traffic, pedestrian and vehicular, elsewhere in Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead was no heavier than any normal Sunday afternoon on a pretty Spring day.
The city’s plans to rein in vendors and traffic congestion seemed to function as planned. The only items missing from the city’s plan were the huge advertising wraps that Downtown landlords were authorized to sell and drape from their buildings.
The city’s 2008 campaign for the game focused on the fan experience of having major attractions and hotels all located within 1,000 steps, according to a report last week in forbes.com.
The fleet of Downtown hotels provide 10,000 rooms within 1,000 steps of the Georgia Dome, which hosted the event.
Also within that distance is the Centennial Olympic Park, which fulfilled its vision of serving as a central gathering spot for major events.
The park was featured repeatedly throughout the televised coverage of the Final Four games on Saturday. Sunday’s brilliant weather no doubt contributed to the flocks of pedestrians heading to and through the park for the music festival.
The Final Four is expected to have attracted more fans than forecast in 2008, and to generate a greater economic impact than originally anticipated.
Initial predictions were for 80,000 fans to create an economic impact of $61 million.
Those figures were raised to 100,000 fans creating an economic impact of $70 million, according to the latest estimates by the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The advertising wraps were approved this year by the Atlanta City Council. The idea was to enable Downtown landlords to profit through the sale of banners measuring up to 10,000 square feet. Each building was limited to no more than 40,000 square feet of advertising wraps.
No such signs were visible during a driving tour Sunday through the areas where they were approved for display in Downtown Atlanta.
The Atlanta City Council may have waited too long to approve legislation that allowed the sale of such signs. The proposal to amend the city’s sign ordinance was considered in November. The council approved it in February, city records show.