Friday, April 01, 2005

NCAA Tournament Comes To St. Louis

I took my son downtown today for the NCAA Final Four activates. The town is alive and about to rock in a big way. I think that STL is ready to host this big event the right way.

We parked at the airport and I was impressed by the number of visitor help centers in the airport and volunteers every where helping and instructing. Banners and welcoming signs hyping the event made it very noticeably different than normal.

We jumped on the Metro and rode to the Ed Dome to watch the Friday practices. The visitors on the train seemed impressed with the ease of jumping on the train and being transported to the event. The trains were packed by the time we reached the Ed Dome.

The lines were kind of long getting into the practice events but hey it's free and it took about 30 minutes total to get in. The lower bowl was pretty much completely filled and was very, very, orange. I would be surprised if it was not about 60% Illinois when they throw it up on game time.

We watched Michigan State practice and they had the band playing and the atmosphere was great. The team ended the open shooting drills with a dunk-off and everyone was cheering and getting into the really good dunks. All fans regardless of loyalty gave the Michigan State players loud applause after the show.

It's just different with the NCAA tournament, there is just something different about college verses pro. Its a true love of the game and appreciation for it I think.

We hopped back on the train and went back to the airport. There was a buzz and energy every step along the way. TV cameras and vendors every where. People smiling and laughing and you could just feel the anticipation of a great event and a really fun event.

Man, the NCAA Tournament is the best sporting event of all in my mind. My college, Florida State is not in it and it does not matter one bit. If you love college sports and the tradition of the event, it does not matter that your team is here or not.

I think STL will show well, looks like they are ready for it and people will enjoy their stay in the Archway City. We love our home of seven years here in STL and I think the visitors will find out why over the next couple days.