2020 Final Four planning coming into focus on GWCCA championship campus

And then there were four – Auburn, Michigan State, Texas Tech, and Virginia were triumphant in their Elite Eight games over the weekend and are now off to the Final Four in Minneapolis. 

The festivities begin on Friday (April 5) and culminate on Monday (April 8) with the Championship Game at U.S. Bank Stadium.  This time next year (April 3-6, 2020), the Big Dance will be in Atlanta, right here on the Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s (GWCCA) championship campus.

In addition to the games being played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) will host Fan Fest, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and March Madness Music Series.  Unlike other cities, no other complex can host all of the NCAA events in one walkable footprint like the GWCCA championship campus.

This isn’t the first time that Atlanta has hosted the Men’s Final Four.  In fact, this will be the fifth time that the NCAA championship has been decided here.  The first time was in 1977 at the former Omni Arena where State Farm Arena currently sits.

A scene from the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game at the Georgia Dome.

It was then hosted at the now-defunct Georgia Dome in 2002, 2007 and 2013.  I was fortunate enough to work at the Georgia Dome the last time we hosted and I can tell you the experience was electric.  When the NCAA comes to town, it’s like seeing a member of your extended family.  You roll out the red carpet and share old stories from the experiences shared.  I truly believe this, and our remarkable venues, are the reasons why Atlanta will stay in the Men’s Final Four rotation.

Each time Atlanta has hosted, we’ve taken away the best practices and lessons learned to be prepared for the next time we host.  These records give us the ability to pick up the planning process from where we left off, instead of having to start from scratch.  These records also help us when putting together future bids for the Final Four and other large events.  Being able to recreate the scene on paper is priceless when tasked to remember what happened several years earlier.

Later this week, a contingency of staff from the GWCCA will join the Atlanta Basketball Host Committee as they make their way to Minneapolis to meet with their NCAA and venue counterparts. They will experience firsthand how the events have changed since 2013.  Pictures and notes will be taken that will be used over the course of the year in planning.  These trips are not new for the GWCCA staff.  In fact, we sent a team to Minneapolis last year for Super Bowl LII.  This trip proved to be invaluable as the experience gave the team a frame of reference in planning Super Bowl LIII.  As evidenced by glowing media reports, Atlanta put on one of the most successful Super Bowls of all time and we owe it to the due diligence of the team planning the events.

We are also fortunate to have the Atlanta Basketball Host Committee housed in the GWCC.  With most of the events taking place on the GWCCA campus, their location makes communication and pop-in meetings easy.  This group is made up of staff that have transitioned from the Football Host Committee that were responsible for producing Super Bowl LIII.  If this team does half of the amazing work that was done with this year’s Super Bowl, there’s no telling how great the 2020 Men’s Final Four will turn out.  I’m looking forward to working with them as we show the NCAA there is no better place to host major events than Atlanta and the GWCCA championship campus.