ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The NCAA college basketball season may be finished, but the road to the Final Four is not slowing down for organizers in Arlington.
For the fourth year in a row, a contingent including personnel from Cowboys Stadium, the Big 12 Conference and the Arlington Police Department were in attendance at the national championship game. They’re preparing for it to return to North Texas in 2014.
“Our job now is to make sure they’re welcome and make sure the fans and the city are ready for all these fans coming in to North Texas,” said Jay Burress from the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Burress just returned from Phoenix, the site of the West Regional Finals games. That round will be played at Cowboys Stadium in 2013.
It’s something of a dress rehearsal for the big show the next year. Burress said discussions included transportation, VIPs, merchandising and welcoming fans into the city.
“Its still March Madness,” he said. “College fans have a passion like none other.”
New Orleans officials estimated a $134 million economic impact from the Final Four games.
Martin Birnbach, host of the Texas Business Hour, said while the impact of basketball is less than football, any sporting event that brings in people will bring in money. Spending at hotels and restaurants he said is money that would otherwise not be in the community.
Not all economists agree though that the championships are that valuable.
A 2003 study from Holy Cross showed that over 30 years of Final Four tournaments, the probability was 54-percent that the host city would lose money. Overestimates of spending, the cost of preparations and the tendency of local residents to stay away were sometimes to blame.
UNT sports economist Todd Jewell agreed that the economic benefits are overstated. The primary benefit he said is exposure of the city and the event venue.
Burress agreed that the exposure would do more to spawn more national level events.
“The more events you do have here, it’s going to be known more and more, you’ve got to be at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington for your big event,” he said.
The Final Four was staged at the Reunion Arena in Dallas in 1986. The regional finals were held at the American Airlines Center in 2006. The last basketball game at Cowboys stadium was the NBA All-Star game in 2010.