It’s been some time since the NCAA Men’s Final Four took place in Atlanta.
The last time the annual basketball extravaganza was in Georgia’s capital city, 2013, the Georgia Dome was still standing (and was the host site) and Rick Pitino was still coaching college basketball. (He and the Louisville Cardinals defeated the Michigan Wolverines 82-76 in the championship game.)
For the fifth time the city will host the Final Four, on April 3-6, but this time it will be at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of more than 70,000 seats and last year’s Super Bowl and the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship. If there’s a building made for the final three days of college basketball season it’s The Benz (despite the fact that the 2-year-old stadium has yet to host a basketball game).
If you weren’t around for the previous four Final Fours that took place in Atlanta (1977 at The Omni, 2002, 2007 and 2013 at the Georgia Dome) then 2020 edition should be enough to satisfy any college basketball fan and casual fan alike. The Atlanta Basketball Host Committee (ABHC), who is responsible for the planning and production surrounding the 2020 Final Four, will hold a number of free and “low-cost” events next year. Those events include the Final Four Fan Fest; March Madness Music Festival; three days of yet to be confirmed A-list acts performing in Centennial Park and; the Final Four Dribble, where 3,000 basketballs will be distributed to area youth for a simultaneous mile-long dribbling exhibition around the Final Four campus.
The “Fam Jam” truck will also begin making trips around the city starting May 1 as part of the “365 days of basketball” initiative.
“This is the third in a series of major events that we will host, the first being the national championship game and Super Bowl,” said Atlanta Basketball Host Committee Executive Director Carl Adkins. “Very few cities have the capacity, infrastructure and talent pool to do what we’re doing here in Atlanta.”
On Wednesday the ABHC held a press conference to announce that the Division II and III men’s championship games will also take place in Atlanta. The games will take place at State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, and will run during Final Four weekend.
“Conducting all three basketball championships in one city on the same weekend provides student-athletes from each division a unique experience,” said NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt. “Atlanta is an ideal setting for this, with venues that are walkable from each other and from downtown hotels and ancillary events. The footprint that Atlanta provides helped make that possible.”
There was also an announcement that the Boys and Girls Club will be among a number of organizations getting together with the ABHC in a collaborative effort from now through the Final Four. In particular, the Joseph B. Whitehead Boys and Girls Club, located on Lakewood Avenue, will be the site for the NCAA’s Next Legacy Project, which works to improve communities in which the Final Four is held. There will be upgrades of local parks, youth programs and sustainability programs put into place.
The city will also host the 2020 U.S. Olympic marathon trials a month earlier on Feb. 29, 2020, the same week as the annual Atlanta Marathon.