This past week in Phoenix, we had the great opportunity to produce at our sixth straight Final Four, one of the nation’s largest sporting weekends of the year. Our Road to the Final Four began about five years ago, with a phone call the month we opened doors at the 3 Point office. Turner Sports was looking for a group to produce a college basketball Legends Game in New Orleans and some of our longtime NBA colleagues in the Big Easy told them about a group of producers up in the Pacific Northwest.
What began as a Legends Game grew into a scope that year that also included the pregame fan fest called Tip-Off Tailgate outside the Superdome. The next year in Atlanta, we got involved with the March Madness Music Festival, producing intermission stage programming on the Coca-Cola and Capital One concerts. As we worked year to year on the events, with our production scope continuing to expand in Dallas, Indianapolis, Houston and now Phoenix…I take a moment each year to stop and marvel at what a privilege it is to work on an event weekend that most people consider a bucket list item.
Final Four is the ultimate fan experience, well beyond the games and One Shining Moment. Final Four Fan Fest, taking place at the host city’s convention center, is an interactive fan zone that is the dream of any hoops fan that enters. From viewing parties to autograph sessions to sponsor footprints like Capital One’s mini baseball stadium and Oreo’s slam dunk court, it’s the type of place you can spend eight hours and barely realize the day has passed.
March Madness Music Festival is the largest free music event in the country and has seen some of the biggest music acts grace the stage…including Dave Matthews, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Rihanna, Aerosmith and Kendrick Lamar. Charles Barkley makes his annual stage appearance heading into Capital One’s Sunday headliner and brings along friends like Shaq, Jim Nantz and Greg Gumbel. We’ve also had fun writing copy for celebrity stage hosts like Kevin Hart and Andy Richter.
Tip-Off Tailgate is the ultimate pregame stop for fans attending the game, taking place right outside venues like AT&T Stadium in Arlington and University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Programming the stage and building crowd energy with pre-game pep rallies, concerts and DJ’s like Scotty B putting down the beats, it’s an honor for us to entertain the masses of fans that travel out for college basketball’s peak performers.
Some people call their jobs work, but this never feels like work…it feels like fun and it is so rewarding to see the smiles on the faces of so many fans. Whether it’s their opportunity to be on stage to introduce a band, show their best moves in a dance contest, catch a t-shirt thrown into the crowd or ride the Ferris Wheel, I feel good knowing that our crew is making dreams come true for so many people. While I will never lift an NCAA trophy above my head on the court, I feel like a champion each year because of the impact of fan experience.