On January 6, 2012, Rob Parker, a writer with ESPN New York, called Atlanta the worst sports town in America. Here’s an excerpt – “If the New York Yankees are the standard for excellence in baseball, Atlanta is the epitome of the bottom of the barrel when it comes to fan support.”
I happen to disagree. I was here when the 90’s Braves team won the pennant and went to the World Series, and I had never seen Atlanta more fanatical and proud. And while Atlanta may not have the deep pockets New York has to get the best players and assemble the strongest teams year in and out – I see a great deal of passion for our sports teams and for sports in general in this city. Witness the crowds for SEC and ACC games, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and more – the Georgia Dome sells out every time.
I personally have seen this passion around the NCAA® Men’s Final Four® when it was last here in Atlanta in 2007, and the South regional just this past weekend. Final Four tickets are hard to get, but the NCAA has created a Super Bowl-like experience during the event, and in my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you can’t see the games. The experience of participating in ALL the NCAA offers around Final Four is fantastic and incredibly fun! For example, this year, New Orleans is hosting the Final Four, and KISS, The Black Keys and Jimmy Buffett are playing FREE concerts as part of the Big Dance. These are A-list acts who are giving more than 50,000 fans the chance to see them play for zero dollars – I think that is cool, and can’t wait to hear about the line-up for Atlanta!
And speaking of 2013, it will be huge. Atlanta will host its fourth NCAA Men’s Final Four tournament, which also happens to be the tournament’s 75th anniversary. Now, the NCAA had 10 cities from which to choose to host this historic tournament and they selected Atlanta. Why? Atlanta not only has great facilities, an abundance of fantastic hotels (12,000 rooms in the downtown area), shopping and dining and accessibility to the airport and MARTA, but also it has a town of enthusiastic, sports-loving fans and volunteers.
Many people don’t know that big events like the Men’s Final Four and the Super Bowl are actually run by volunteers – but they are. And I’m excited to be part of a city that has thousands of ready, willing and able volunteers who will create the most memorable Final Four in history.
If you’re interested in volunteering for the Final Four, and more importantly proving Rob Parker (who only has 27 likes on Facebook) wrong, then go to the web form and fill in your information. Atlanta will need approximately 3,000 volunteers to help with everything from greeting teams and guests to handing basketballs to kids participating in the Dome Dribble walk/run event and more! Visit www.c21pr.com/volunteersignup.html.