KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Officials from the Big 12 and the Cowboys expect a record crowd of more than 80,000 people will attend the Final Four when it’s played at AT&T Stadium in suburban Dallas.
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Cowboys vice president Charlotte Anderson said at the Big 12’s annual media day Tuesday that they anticipate breaking the mark for a national semifinal of 75,421 set during the 2011 Final Four in Houston.
“We have the capacity to host over 80,000, and that’s been distributed through the NCAA channels,” Anderson said. “We hope that we can open that capacity beyond that for standing room. That is being under consideration by the NCAA at this point.
“We know that we’ll have a pretty packed venue,” Anderson said, “and we hope that we can get as many people that want to come in the venue itself.”
The record for a championship game is 74,326, set during Louisville’s 82-76 victory over Michigan on April 8 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The previous record was 72,922, which was set when North Carolina played Michigan State on April 6, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit.
This season’s title game is scheduled for April 7, 2014.
“We’re going to have events all over the Metroplex,” said Bowlsby, whose conference will be serving as the Final Four host. “There are a lot of fun things that are going to go on during the course of the weekend, and obviously as the commissioner of the Big 12, I believe we have some teams with the capability to be playing when the Final Four commences in Dallas.”
Dallas hasn’t hosted a Final Four since 1986, when league member Kansas lost in the national semifinals at Reunion Arena. Louisville beat Auburn for the national championship.
That game wasn’t hosted by the Big 12 — or back then, the Big Eight. But the last time the conference was the host of a Final Four was in 1988, when the Jayhawks met Oklahoma in an all-Big Eight title game in Kansas City, Mo. Kansas won that game, 83-79.
“Well, it’s certainly a high standard to live up to,” Bowlsby said. “I would not be at all surprised if we had somebody playing in that final two or in the Final Four. It may be a little much to ask to have two of our teams playing in the championship game.”
The $1.3 billion showplace of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has played host to several basketball games since it opened in 2009 as Cowboys Stadium.
An announced crowd of more than 108,000 fans showed up for the 2010 NBA All-Star game, the most highly-attended basketball game in history. More than 38,000 turned out to see Texas play North Carolina in the building’s first college hoops game on Dec. 19, 2009.
But the facility didn’t get a dry run at hosting the Final Four until this past season, when it was the site of an NCAA tournament regional. The event allowed Big 12 and facility officials to see how the court, bleachers and other amenities would be set up for the game.
“It just kind of slams you in the face when you wake up and go, `Oh, we’re five months away from really playing basketball,” Anderson said. “It’s been since 1986 when we held our first and last Final Four in Dallas, and we hope to set us on the road to host many more in the future.”
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