INDIANAPOLIS — We are days away from the Final Four tip-off at Lucas Oil Stadium. This new round of the tournament is bringing some fresh excitement to the Circle City.
Final Four preparations started as soon as the “Elite Eight Games” ended late Tuesday night. From the courts to the merchandise, the March Madness hype is not letting up.
Wednesday morning the final four court was put down at Lucas Oil Stadium ahead of Saturday’s games where the entire tournament will end.
“For this court we start in the center we call it a zipper floor. So, we start in the very center where the hoops kind of line up. And then from there we kind of build out on both sides,” said Connor Sports, Events Project Manager, James Gabour.
Taking anywhere from 3 to 5 hours to install the new court that’s made up of wood that has been harvested in Michigan since the fall.
“We got 394 pieces out there,” said Gabour.
Gabour says they’ve been participating in the tournament assisting with the court since 2006. So. This mission isn’t new.
“Just the last few weeks here has been making sure all the tournament floors, show up on time, show up to the right venues, get installed properly,” said Gabour.
Over of Pennsylvania Street, the NCAA has an official souvenir shop where they’ve been prepping for the final four for weeks. Their production facility is working around the clock to get the Final Four shipment by the morning.
“We’ll be ready to go in the middle of the day tomorrow. Product going to the stadium to be ready for final four Friday and the games over the weekend,” said Event One, Merchandise and Operations Manager, Tom Ell.
There are multiple locations to buy merchandise around the city. But the profit isn’t the same when fan capacity is cut by more than half.
“Obviously were adjusting to that. And we’re just hoping for next year to be able to be back to normal. And to sell to that 70,000 each day in the stadium. And kind of make it what we’re used to over the years,” said Ell.
But they’re excited to be here. And so are the fans whether they’re able to get a cheaper shirt to represent an eliminated team or a hot priced item for those who dance on.
“The unfortunate thing is half the teams go home each day. We just want to try to move some of the inventory we can,” said Ell.
The shop says what’s been interesting is seeing fans rush to buy Razorback and Wolverine apparel since they made it so far in the tournament before being sent home.