Jul 20, 2023 - Sports

No rest for Glendale as Super Bowl's end gives way to Final Four planning

An outline of Arizona with the words Final Four inside it, above a countdown clock showing days hours and minutes.

The Final Four countdown clock was unveiled in April at Sky Harbor. Photo: Courtesy of 2024 Men’s Final Four Host Committee

With the Super Bowl and its year of intensive preparation behind them, Glendale officials and Final Four host committee members are looking to next year.

The big picture: Glendale will be home to the NCAA men's basketball Final Four on April 6 and 8 at State Farm Stadium.

  • Glendale last hosted the playoff tournament in 2017.

State of play: In many ways, the planning for hosting the two big-ticket sporting events are the same, Glendale city manager Kevin Phelps told us.

  • They're also working with essentially the same host committee they did for the Super Bowl.
  • Host committee president and CEO Jay Parry said there'll be a lot of similarities when it comes to events, community outreach, finance and fundraising.

Yes, but: There are also plenty of differences, Phelps noted.

  • Because there are two days of games, along with open practice on Friday, April 5, visitors are expected to spend more time in Glendale than they did for the single-day Super Bowl.
  • The NFL is more corporate sponsor-focused than the NCAA, and with the Final Four, the city can focus on the event itself and less on "peripheral things."
  • Because it's an NCAA event, Parry said, the host committee will place an emphasis on student involvement.

By the numbers: Over the Final Four's three days, Phelps said the city expects about 154,000 people to descend on State Farm Stadium, compared with nearly 68,000 for the Super Bowl.

Zoom in: Organizers have the benefit of the experience gained from recent host duties, plus new and improved technology.

  • For example, Glendale didn't use aerial drones for public safety and traffic management during the 2017 Final Four but will do so extensively next year.

Details: Glendale began planning in March when it sent a delegation of public safety, transportation and building safety employees to Houston to observe their Final Four preparations.

  • NCAA officials were in town this week for one of their monthly planning meetings with local partners.

What's next: The host committee next month will begin working on community outreach programs and unveil its "Fan Jam," which it will take around the Valley and other parts of Arizona to build "excitement and energy and awareness."

  • The mobile pop-up will feature basketball hoops, a vertical reach station, branding and decor, and an opportunity to take photos with the championship trophy.
  • The committee will also launch a third-grade reading initiative, and a bracket-style reading competition that'll kick off next spring leading up to the event.
  • They'll work with the NCAA to identify a high-need community center or park for a renovation project, as they did with Phoenix's Harmon Park in 2017.

The intrigue: If any Arizona teams make the Final Four — and let's be honest, Jeremy's Wildcats are the likeliest candidates in any given year — there'll be both upsides and downsides, Phelps said.

  • A local team in the championship will likely lead to fewer out-of-town fans filling the Valley's hotel rooms, but it'll also ensure that tickets sell out at premium prices.
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