Fans Whoop It Up At Final Four
Posted March 25, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
St. Petersburg, Fla. — Everything seemed to change Friday in the Bay area. There was more activity, more traffic on the roads and just a higher level of anticipation. That was because for four hours fans could get a dose ofFinal Fourfever, and it didn't cost a dime.
TheNCAA's open house kicked off around noon at the Tropicana Field. The free event was a chance for the fans to see their favorite teams practice.
TheDevilsare the team to beat in the tournament, and there was a lot of respect for the men dressed in blue. There is respect for a coach who keeps thing clean, and respect for a program that graduates its players.
"I just feel like his program for the kids is especially good; through academics, scholarships and family involvement," says Duke mom Noree Williams.
The Duke fans say they can sense the team's power, their focus and the difference in their demeanor and attitude at the Final Four.
"I can definitely see a difference in their concentration," says Duke fan John Dean.
Everything imaginable with a college logo on it was for sale in the Dome. The vendor tables looked like the New York Stock Exchange. T-shirts, hats, even bears and sweaters were hot items.
The sad part of Friday was that the open house was as close as some are going to get to the Final Four--not many people had tickets to the actual games.
There are 41,390 seats in Tropicana Field, and no one has been selling the tickets for them so far.
Another one of the biggest attractions of the Final Four was across the Bay in Tampa. It was a place were people of all ages and basketball skill levels still had fun. It's a place called Hoop City.
Some of the many basketball courts teach the fundamentals of basketball. One thing was obvious, that there were a number of young girls on the floor.
"Hopefully, they will carry this on and want to play college basketball," says University of Tampa player Heather Levan. "Hopefully, we can help them, and that is why we are here today."
The facility also featured a Kid's Court that was a place for pint-size players. More than anything, Hoop City was all about fun, about learning skills and team work and about something as simple as putting a round ball through a round hoop.