Jerry Colangelo looks at city Phoenix’s rise as a basketball city, after the confirmation that the city will be playing host to the Final Four in April.
Upon arriving in Phoenix practically 50 years ago, it was unthinkable to believe that one day the NCAA Final Four Competition would be held in the Valley.
And at that time, who would have even cared? Though ASU had a great run under famous coach Ned Wulk in the ’60s and ’70s, interest in basketball throughout the Valley was pretty limited. After the Phoenix Suns made their NBA debut in 1968, fan interest was marginal. The majority of people attending games at Veterans Memorial Coliseum were just there to enjoy and cheer and check out the team.
Arizona at peak of March Insanity
All these years later and Arizona signs up with just 21 other states to have ever hosted this renowned sporting spectacle. And today there are just nine locations in America that even fulfil the NCAA criteria for hosting this distinguished 87-year-old competition. Luckily for Phoenix, the University of Phoenix Arena is among them.
This year, “March Insanity” will culminate here in the Valley, and basketball fans from around the globe will be watching. Dateline Glendale– and the bigger urbane Phoenix area– will delight in hundreds of countless dollars in media exposure as 90-plus million fans watch on at home in front of their televisions. Lots of others will see the games online and all of this exposure will eventually be a huge boost for Arizona tourism. The immediate benefits are significant as, in 2015 more than 100,000 fans traveled to Houston for the game or weekend celebrations and the city benefited from $300 million in direct economic effect. Not to mention all the business and jobs that will open and add to the economic boost through the basketball frenzy. Tourists will want to get their hands on some merchandise such as basketball hoodies or other apparel to take home.
There are also substantial benefits for the neighbourhood as the NCAA will reconstruct Harmon Park in downtown Phoenix. For years this park has been a hotbed for expert and college gamers searching for a quick game. And the kids watching on ultimately become more than simply spectators as they eventually start to use the park and get into youth leagues… and off the streets.
Phoenix will in fact be the first western city to host a Final Four given that in 1995, and this is a testimony to the amazing success of all the previous major sporting occasions that have been staged in the Valley. 3 Super Bowls, several NBA and MLB All-Star Weekends; several NCAA National Championship games and numerous other sporting occasions have paved the way for Phoenix’s turn to host a Final 4. Our fantastic weather and a legion of experienced volunteers extending warm Arizona hospitality to fans will ensure that the NCAA returns again and again.
Beyond the crucial financial advantages and significant media exposure that is generated by hosting “The Huge Dance,” is how it works to further validate the Valley as a sports mecca. Never would it had been thought that Phoenix would be among the country’s elite cities to host these signature sporting events.
It’s reasonable to say that Phoenix is today an indisputable basketball town with many sporting the iconic Phoenix Mercury basketball singlets and other merchandise.
Sealing our basketball capital status
Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Popularity, speaks of the news.
Throughout my profession, I have been privileged to be associated with numerous other basketball companies, programs and activities and serve in a wide variety of leadership roles.
I have been most honoured to work as chairman of USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball the last few years and help orchestrate our nation’s return to world supremacy in the sport, winning three successive gold medals. One day, I am confident that the USA Olympic Basketball Headquarters will in fact transfer to the Valley, as that would just even more verify us as a basketball capital.
As chairman of the Board of Governors of Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and a 2004 inductee into the hall, I am also working to place a west coast museum here as that too would help us to attract future signature basketball occasions.