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Houston Gets Ready For Final Four

In less than two months, the city of Houston will play host to an event nearly as big as the Super Bowl. The NCAA’s Final Four will be played here and that means big business for the city. Bill Stamps reports.



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March Madness is coming to Houston.

True basketball fans know it was just here last year when the Sweet Sixteen Regional were held here in Houston. But this year, it’s the big dance: the Final Four April 2nd and the championship game the following Monday.

“We will have the largest number of seats. We have 76,250 basketball seats. When you fill those with fanatics and you figure that 90 percent of them are coming from some place outside of the metropolitan area — it’s a big deal.”

Greg Ortale runs Houston’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

He expects almost as much money to change hands when the Final Four comes here as when the Super Bowl was played in Houston in 2004. Mostly because of the number of out of town fans who will travel to Houston to see the games.

“They’ve got all day Sunday and most of the day on Monday to go out and explore Houston. The opportunities for the small business person and others — restaurants — to get some benefits are really pretty significant.”

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Reliant Stadium hosts thousands of fans each Sunday during the fall and thousands more during the rodeo. But one business owner told me his business actually goes down during big events, because his normal customers don’t want to deal with the traffic or parking problems.

There were certainly a lot of problems during last week’s Super Bowl in Dallas. I asked Ortale if he got any advice from organizers up north. He said it was actually the opposite. They were calling him since Houston hosted the Super Bowl in ‘04.

“There were a few people who were calling us about asking us about how we did things.”

The NCAA has several local hotels reserved for teams and officials. But most rooms won’t start filling up for a while, because as anyone who’s ever filled out a March Madness tournament pool sheet knows — it’s nearly impossible to predict who will be playing in the Final Four.

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