The biggest surprise for some in Arlington on Saturday night wasn’t that two underdogs advanced to the NCAA men’s Cheap NCAA Jerseys
basketball championship. The shocking discovery was about the size of AT Stadium and the view from the cheap seats. “Of course, nothing says college hoops like 80K and names like Meredith, Lilly, Staubach, Dorsett ringing the house,” he posted on Twitter.
Also, Juliet Macur of The New York Times wrote a thorough analysis of the super sizing of the Final Four.
Few would argue that football stadiums provide a less intimate tournament atmosphere than an NBA size arena or certainly a college fieldhouse. But that debate was settled long before AT Stadium.
The Final Four was last played at a traditional, 20,000 seat basketball venue in 1996, when the University of Kentucky celebrated a title on the floor of the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey.
And since the NCAA recently started placing the court in the center of the stadium floor, the crowds have been regularly 70,000 plus. The cavernous AT Stadium set a college basketball attendance record Saturday. But that crowd was just 4,023 more than Houston’s Reliant Stadium in 2011.
It also barely compares to the 2010 NBA All Star Game in Arlington and its crowd of 108,713.
But this discussion was simmering nearly a decade before Dallas Cowboys fans ever heard of an Arkansas oilman named Jerry Jones.
“Our No. 1 question is whether we can maintain the type of atmosphere we maintain in smaller arenas,” NCAA spokesman Dave Cawood told the Associated Press in 1982. “If we can maintain that atmosphere, we’ll return.”
At the time, March Madness was descending on the Superdome in New Orleans. They’ve returned four times since then, and the city is a finalist for a possible fifth.
“The reality is that you can get 80,000 people in to watch a game, and that’s pretty exciting,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert. “There may be people that like to be in a tighter arena, but not the 60,000 that wouldn’t be there.”