San Antonio Makes Final Preparations For Final Four
The championship weekend for the NCAA Final Four is four days away, and city officials and the San Antonio police are working out the security details.
The Final Four are the final games of the NCAA men’s college basketball season. Sixty-eight teams dreamed of making it where only Villanova, Kansas, Loyola-Chicago, and Michigan sit. About 93,000 people are expected to arrive in San Antonio by this weekend and law enforcement are taking every precaution.
Coming soon after a series of bombs in Austin, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus says there are a dozen law enforcement agencies providing protection and surveillance during the Final Four.
“We have our own internal intelligence that’s working,” he said. “… If people are dreaming about doing something, we’re going to know about it.”
The San Antonio Fire Department is also preparing for minor to major emergencies.
“We are going to be here for the person that falls down and cuts their ankle; we’re going to be here for someone who may have a heart attack, but we’re also here and prepared for something even more sinister, which we hope will never happen,” said San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood. “Our resources are here planned, staged, and prepared for this event.”
Emergency officials will be depending on the public’s eyes and ears, as well. The city is continuing an “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign, asking people to report unattended bags or conversations that seem suspicious.
All security at Final Four events will enforce a clear bag policy for large bags but some small purses will be allowed. And when driving around the Alamodome and Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center you can expect some roads to be closed.
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This is San Antonio’s fourth time hosting the Final Four since the late 1990s. The last one was in 2008. San Antonio was selected for the Final Four in 2014 and has been making preparations since it started bidding for it.
“To get ready we have put $60 million in improvement into the Alamodome,” said Mary UllmannJaphet with San Antonio Sports and the local organizing committee of the NCAA. “We have essentially a new convention center since we last hosted in 2008.”
In 2008, the Final Four brought about 43,000 people into the Alamo City. This year, there is an economic impact expected of $183 million, Ullmann said. San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley says it’s also an opportune time to show off the city.
“We know that there are many companies that will fly their corporate staff here to the community; they’ll see the airport; they’ll see our downtown; … we’ll all be talking with these corporate people coming to San Antonio about the great business climate and the opportunities for business development,” she said.
On a side note, McManus is rooting for Villanova — his alma mater. “I’m not a big college basketball fan but I may stop around and say hello to the coach and some of players,” he said.
Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules