About 3,000 kids dribble through downtown Phoenix for the Final Four Dribble on Sunday, April 2, 2017. (Patrick Breen/azcentral.com)
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FINAL FOUR: Fans react as Gonzaga survives late S. Carolina rally, advances to championship 77-73. (Alden Woods/azcentral)
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Fans arrive early for the festivities before the Final Four games Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Patrick Breen/azcentral)
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Would you spend $7,500 for three games of the best college basketball? How about $275? Reporter Perry Vandell breaks down the action on the tickets before the big games. Patrick Breen/azcentral.com
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Downtown Phoenix gets ready to host the NCAA Final Four Fan Fest and house the teams as they play in nearby Glendale for the NCAA Final Four games. David Wallace/azcentral.com
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The court for the NCAA Final Four tournament is put together at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral
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The massive scoreboard known as “Colussus TV” is installed at University of Phoenix Stadium for the upcoming NCAA Final Four games. David Wallace/azentral.com
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Mark Hubler, emergency manager for Glendale, talks about the Final Four on Feb. 28, 2017, in the Emergency Operation Center, Glendale.
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Final Four hits the streets with a Dribble walk!
Gonzaga fans in Glendale react to win over S. Carolina in NCAA semifinal
Fans pack University of Phoenix Stadium lawn for Final Four
Which seats in the Final Four house are still available?
Downtown Phoenix gets ready for NCAA Final Four
Piece by piece, the court for the NCAA Final Four tournament is put together in Glendale
Scoreboard installed at University of Phoenix Stadium for Final Four
Preparing for the Final Four in Glendale
The Final Four is in Arizona. Who’s here? What’s happening? Check back for frequent updates on the scene at the stadium, the Fan Fest and the March Madness Music Festival.
- 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Final Four Fan Fest at the Phoenix Convention Center.
- 3-10 p.m. Capital One JamFest at March Madness Music Festival at Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix. Free to the public. Set times are Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats at 3:45 p.m., Blink 182 at 5 p.m., Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at 6:30 p.m. and Aerosmith at 8:30 p.m.
4:30 p.m.: Music fest at capacity
The Phoenix Police Department tweeted at 3:46 p.m. that the March Madness Music Festival had reached capacity and they were closing the doors.
“They are still going to let in everyone who is currently in line. They will re-evaluate later to determine if they will re-open the gates or not,” Phoenix Police spokesman Alan Pfohl said at 4:33 p.m.
Many people were furious that the festival filled up so early, yelling as they stormed away from the park. Others stayed in line, hopeful that that would still be able to get in later.
4 p.m. Actor Josh Peck is here!
Actor Josh Peck of Nickelodeon’s “Drake & Josh” fame visited downtown Phoenix Saturday and Sunday for the Final Four festivities.
Peck, who currently voices Casey Jones in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” posted a video of himself Saturday shooting a basketball in the Final Four Fan Fest.
Sunday afternoon he posted a photo of him and a friend posing in front of the “sorry” sign outside FOUND:RE Phoenix hotel, which is steps away from the March Madness Music Festival.
3:30 p.m. Arizona pride at Fan Fest
Many Arizonans at the Final Four Fan Fest said they take pride in having the Final Four in the Valley.
Kyle Hobbs, 23, said it makes sense this location was chosen. It’s big and spread out without too much traffic.
“It’s just a great city,” he said. Attendees from other states are able to see another side of Arizona beyond the fact that it’s a hot desert.
“The best thing about Phoenix is there really is so much stuff here,” local Troy Hutchinson said. “You really have to have a good plan if you do come to visit.”
Hobbs added that this isn’t just for visitors: Locals also get a unique opportunity to experience large-scale events and meet star athletes. He and his 16-year-old brother Zach were standing in line to meet Arizona Cardinals player Tyrann Mathieu.
“I think it’s a great turnout for the fans, gives them something to look forward to,” Hobbs said.
3 p.m.: Doors open for the music fest
There were long lines to get into the free March Madness Music Festival before it opened at 3 p.m. Many people wore shirts displaying their favorite act of the night.
They’re smart to get a head start – officials closed the festival’s gates by 7:30 p.m. Saturday because it had reached capacity, rumored to be about 20,000, though officials were unable to confirm the number.
Famed concert lighting designer and director Cosmo Wilson posted a photo of a bunch of inflatable pool floats near the band gear, so it’s likely than giant swans, pizza slices and donuts will appear in the crowd during one of the shows Sunday.
2 p.m.: Fan recreates Christian Laettner’s famous shot
Christian Laettner, who many regard as one of the greatest NCAA players ever, recreated his most famous basketball moment with fans at the Fan Fest in Phoenix Sunday afternoon: He threw the full-court inbound pass so attendees could attempt his winning shot from the 1992 East Regional Finals.
Most fans missed. A few made it. Finally, at 2 p.m. on the dot, the emcee pumped up Shirley Peng to take the final shot. She made it.
“It was amazing,” she said.
Peng was with her husband, Seth Fager, who shot and missed right before her. He said he saw the highlight as a kid but wasn’t watching the actual game.
“It was cool,” he said. “It was definitely something I’ll cherish forever.”
Peng said she’s not among the crowd that still hates Laettner. He is so widely disliked that ESPN even produced a “30 for 30” titled “I Hate Christian Laettner.”
“I think he’s a great basketball player,” she said with a laugh.
1 p.m.: Fans line up to meet Steve Nash
Hundreds of people stood in line for hours in the Final Four Fan Fest in downtown Phoenix Sunday afternoon to meet former Phoenix Suns player and eight-time NBA All-Star Steve Nash.
Organizers had to cut off the line before Nash even arrived. Some at the front of the line said they waited for three hours to meet the legend.
Joshua Haslip, 14, said his favorite Nash memory was when Nash fractured his nose on court in 2010 and just popped it back into place himself.
Tyler Lamoreaux, 13, said he doesn’t really remember watching Nash play but brought a photo of himself when he was 2, wearing a Nash jersey, to be signed.
Noon: Dikembe Mutombo meets fans
Four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award winner and eight-time All-Star Dikembe Mutombo appeared at the Fan Fest at noon Sunday. He posted a photo with former San Antonio Spurs player David Robinson and ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale, who he towered over. Mutombo is 7′ 2″.
11 a.m.: Ready, set, dribble!
Young basketball fans were able to bounce into action Sunday morning by participating in the Final Four Dribble in downtown Phoenix.
Armed with special NCAA Final Four-themed basketballs, about 3,000 children maneuvered through the heart of Fan Fest, showcasing their ball handling skills.
For the older kids, it was taking their talents from off the court and onto the streets. But for the youngsters in the pack, who were accompanied by their parents, it was more about joining in on the fun and trying their hardest to dribble in a straight line.
With their oversized dribble shirts hanging to their knees, they attempted to control the unwieldy balls that were nearly half their size.
“She’s been practicing,” Blanca Ardon said, watching as her daughter, Mia, 9, raced in front of her.
“Mom, look!” the girl shouted proudly.
Catching up to her older brothers, Mia shared that she loved to play basketball and was enjoying her time out with the other children.
Blanca, from Phoenix, said she was happy when she heard about the event because it was a great way for her kids to get involved with Final Four and to stay active.
Just up ahead Maya Gutierrez, 9, and her brother, Esteban, 10, bounced their balls toward the final destination: Fan Fest inside the Phoenix Convention Center.
“They play soccer, but this might have sparked something,” said their father, Andy Gutierrez. “It’s been a great event … all of the Fan Fest activities for the Final Four. We came out for the Super Bowl activities a few years ago but this might be better.”
With a bit more skill and grace, a basketball team from the West Valley Warriors sports club were up near the front as they approached the doors to Fan Fest.
“We’re hoping to see one of the college players,” said Nyuol Makuei, 15.
“Yeah, that’d be cool!” said teammate Stacy Goree.
According to Reginald Tahy, a Fan Fest supporter who was helping guide the crowd as they funneled near the doors, the Final Four Dribble was one of the most anticipated events for the organizers as they got to see the children participate and interact with the activities.
“It’s running smoothly … it all is,” Tahy said. “Everything so far this weekend has gone off without a hitch.”
TV schedule for Monday
Semifinal winners, 6:19 p.m., Channel 5 (Play-by-play: Jim Nantz. Analysts: Bill Raftery, Grant Hill. Reporter: Tracy Wolfson)
Compiled by Arizona Republic reporter Kaila White from reports by Republic reporters Yihyun Jeong and Logan Newman.
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