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WATCH: Exclusive Interviews at the 2009 NCAA Final Four Press Conference

Quicktime Video

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Local News / Sports

Friday, 13 February, 2009 12:34 PM

2009 Men's NCAA Final Four Coming to Detroit with Many FREE Events for Fans

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Ford Field will host the 2009 Men's NCAA Final Four

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

WATCH: Exclusive Interviews at the 2009 NCAA Final Four Press Conference

Quicktime Video

DETROIT -- First it was the MLB All-Star Game and then the NFL Super Bowl. Now, the 2009 Men's Final Four basketball championship game will be played in Detroit this April. A whole week-long schedule of events is planned to go along with it. Many of the supporting events are free and open to the public. Most of Detroit's hotels are already booked for Final Four week.

The NCAA Men's championship game and semi-final games will be played on April 4 and 6 at Ford Field. However, a wide range of entertainment and community events are also planned during the week leading up to the big games.

"The three games are going to be the highlight of the Final Four weekend," said Bill Ryan, Executive Director of the Detroit Local Organizing committee. "We want people to come downtown, enjoy themselves and have a great time. We think Detroit's got a lot to offer. The city of Detroit's moving ahead in a very positive way."

The three-day "Big Dance" will rock the Detroit riverfront on April 3 - 5 with outdoor concerts. Performances will be made on two stages -- one for national acts and another for local bands. Musicians will be announced soon.

"Hoop City" will offer four days of interactive basketball-themed family activities on April 3 - 6 at Cobo Center. There are basketball competitions, clinics, performances, photo ops, prizes, chance to play other NCAA sports, autograph sessions and more. Tickets are $8 for everyone age 12 and over, $6 for children 3-11, college students, seniors (55 and older) and military.

"Final Four Friday" will allow fans to see the top four teams practice at Ford Field on April 3 free of charge. Practices run from Noon to 4 p.m. with gates opening at 11 a.m. The "Hershey's College All-Star Game" will immediately follow with tip-off at 4:30 p.m., also free of charge. It will include two teams comprised of college basketball's top seniors.

"It's gonna be a tremendous opportunity to showcase our city to outside visitors," said Keri Gaither, Chair of the Detroit Local Organizing Committee. "But it's also going to have a tremendous economic impact to the local economy which is very exciting right now at this time when we really need it. It's gonna be lots of fun and we hope everybody will come down and experience it."

The "Road to Final Four 5K" run/walk will take place along the streets of downtown Detroit on April 5. Registration will take place at Michigan Hall inside Cobo Center. The start and finish line will be at Washington Blvd. and Jefferson Ave. The race begins at 8:30 a.m. Entry fees are $20 (if sent before March 30) or $25 after March 30 and the day of the race. The first 1,000 runners will receive a long-sleeved Nike shirt and free admission to Hoop City.

Over 4,000 local youth will dribble basketballs from Ford Field to Hoop City in an attempt to break a world record. Registration is free for the first 4,000 participants and begins at 11:30 a.m. and begins at 2 p.m. Participants will receive a free basketball and a t-shirt.

Detroit middle school students will be offered free sport and life skill instruction clinics. A documentary will also be showed on the topic of diversity and race relations.

A food recovery program will support the homeless. Leftover food from each hospitality event will be given to local charities and homeless shelters.

"There will be some great Detroit local bands to join on one or two local stages to join the national stage," said Jon Witz, President of Jon Witz & Associates. "Detroit has such a music tradition and not only showcase the spectacular riverfront but to also bring in some music from Detroit is will be a great addition that hasn't been as prevalent in past cities."

Detroit will once again be in the worldwide spotlight. Almost 1,500 members of the media will be in town to cover the games. Fans and the media will be introduced Detroit-style as part of a new hospitality initiative. Welcome signs will be posted at hotels, restaurants and local attractions.

The Final Four is expected to bring in $30 million to $50 million to the metro Detroit economy. An estimated 30,000 visitors will be in the Motor City during that week.

 

PHOTO ©AMERICAJR.com

AmericaJR.com's Jason Rzucidlo interviews Bill Ryan, Executive Director of the Detroit Local Organizing Committee.

 

PHOTO ©AMERICAJR.com

AmericaJR.com's Jason Rzucidlo interviews Keri Gaither, Chair of the Detroit Local Organizing Committee and the Director of Athletics at University of Detroit Mercy.

 

PHOTO ©AMERICAJR.com

AmericaJR.com's Jason Rzucidlo interviews Jon Witz, President of Jon Witz & Associates.

 

 

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