Countdown to Final Four in Atlanta has begun - CBS46 News

Countdown to Final Four in Atlanta has begun

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It's 75 days and counting to the big dance in Atlanta and on CBS Atlanta News. This year marks the 75th anniversary of March Madness.

"To be hosting the 75th celebration of the tournament is a great honor for our city," William Pate, President, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau said.

The countdown is on, so bring on March Madness as the Sweet Sixteen moves down to the Elite Eight and then the Final Four teams who will play for the championship in Atlanta.

"I think we're going to see that in the Final Four, the tournament will be amazingly competitive. It'll be full of all those great upsets that people love to see and at the end of the day the teams that are most focused and playing well will emerge," said Mike Bobinski, Chairman, Division I Men's Basketball Committee for the NCAA.

Teams will tip off in a familiar place.  The 50-yard line at the Georgia Dome will be center court.

"When you have 70,000 plus people watching the game, you wonder can you really have an intimate experience and the answer is yes. You put the students right down there on the floor, the level or enthusiasm is going to be heightened," John Yates, Chairman, Atlanta Basketball Host Committee said.

And for the first time in Final Four history, the number of student tickets will double and each team will have student fans represented in the end zone.

"As we know, the students get everybody going. The faces painted and the cheers and the mocking of their opponents. It helps to excite the rest of the crowd," Dan Gavitt, Vice President, Men's Basketball Championships for the NCAA said.

Organizers said coming back to Atlanta just made sense.

"It's got such rich sporting history, cultural history it's got the depth and diversity that really mirrors our event in so many ways and it made it the perfect event to host the 75th anniversary celebration of march madness," Bobinski said.

And because of that, the city will reap the rewards in more ways than one.

"What it means from a practical standpoint is $70 million for economic impact. We're going to have over 100,000 visitors to our city who are going to be going to the games, staying in our hotels and visiting our restaurants," Pate said.

Fans don't need a ticket to join in the fun. Celebrations will take place all over downtown. From the free Big Dance concerts at Centennial Olympic Park to Fan Fest at Bracket Town.

"The impact that it will have on the city of Atlanta will be felt for years to come," Sharon Goldmacher, Executive Director, Atlanta Local Organizing Committee said.

There's something else new this year. The Division II and III championship games will also be played in Atlanta.  Those games are free and will be played at Phillips Arena.

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