Tech set to host Final Four in Atlanta

Photo by Jamie Howell

Tech may not be playing in the Final Four this year, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a part of it. Tech will be the host institution for the Final Four this year and the event will take place in the Georgia Dome. Senior Associate Athletic Director, Paul Griffin has directed Tech’s efforts throughout this process.

“As the host institution, we basically serve as the connection between the NCAA and the local community. For example, as the NCAA member we serve as conduit of information from the NCAA Championships to the various hotels, transportation groups, buildings, facilities and all the hospitality groups. We’re basically just a link. Specifically we’re responsible for game management. The people who manage the events at the arena will be our staff,” said Griffin.

On Saturday, Louisville will take on Wichita Sate, and Michigan will face off against Syracuse for a shot at playing for the National Championship on Monday night. All of this taking place in the Georgia Dome. The Division II and Divison III men’s basketball championships will also be taking place in Atlanta. Hosting sporting events as big as the Final Four can have a huge impact on Tech and the city of Atlanta.

“I think the real benefit for Tech is to be able to develop relationships within the community. Our ability to help the Atlanta market, the economy, we’re talking about a 70 million dollar impact. Anytime Georgia Tech can assist in that kind of a role that’s a real asset for the community that we live in. So that’s are primary motive for doing that. You can go to the games and watch all the events and you may never even know that Georgia Tech is involved,” said Griffin.

This isn’t Griffin’s first time in this role. Tech was the host institution for the Final Four in 1998, 2002, and 2007, and Griffin was around for all three.

“While you learn a lot from each event, the event itself has changed and evolved over time. Our responsibilities remain inside the building and that aspect hasn’t changed. Although this year will be the first time in Atlanta that the court is configured on the middle of the football field where as it used to be in the end zone. And so you have a capacity of 74,000 versus probably 45-50,000 in the other configuration,” said Griffin.

The Final Four will be held in the Georgia Dome off campus, but with Tech being the host institution they did get the privilege of hosting the college slam dunk and three-point competition in the brand new McCamish Pavilion on Thursday night. Several of the competing teams will also be practicing in the Zelnak facility, Tech’s practice court.

One of the more popular names that competed in the three point competition was Florida Gulf Coast University’s Sherwood Brown. Brown became famous as he lead his fifteenth-seeded team all the way to the Sweet Sixteen earlier in the tournament.

Although not ran by Tech, there will be all kinds of events in Atlanta associated with the Final Four including fan festes and concerts. These events are part of what makes an event like the Final Four so appealing to different types of people.

Hosting the Final Four is good for the city of Atlanta and is great for Tech. With the young talent and promise that the Tech men’s basketball team showed last season, it may not bee too long until you see the Jackets back playing in the Final Four themselves.