North Texas Gears Up for Final Four

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Monday, Mar 24, 2014  |  Updated 8:57 PM CDT
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March Madness is raging and the countdown is on to next week's Final Four basketball championship that will happen in Arlington.

Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News

March Madness is raging and the countdown is on to next week's Final Four basketball championship that will happen in Arlington.

The Final Four NCAA Basketball Championship games will be at AT&T Stadium in Arlington this year, but the main hotels and fan attractions will be in Downtown Dallas and police are preparing to keep it safe.

The Dallas Police Department briefed the Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee about the security plans on Monday.

“I’m sure the downtown area will have a hundred thousand people through all the events,” said Assistant Dallas Police Chief Mike Genovesi.

Semi-Final games will be in Arlington on Saturday, April 5, followed by the championship game on Monday, April 7. The teams will arrive in North Texas the Wednesday before.

Police are modeling some of their security plans on experience gained when Arlington hosted Super Bowl XLV three years ago, and major hotels and fan activities were in Dallas.

One new feature is a three-day outdoor music festival planned at the site where Dallas Reunion Arena was demolished in 2009.

Two stages are going up at the site, with Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band booked as the final act on Sunday, April 6.

“It will be similar to staffing a structured event in that you’ll have officers inside as well as outside working traffic and crowd control issues,” Genovesi said.

The concert area will be surrounded with a fence for crowd control and safety.

“There are concerns, obviously since Boston,” Genovesi said referencing the Boston Marathon bombing. “Everyone is aware of these kind of issues. There will be bag checks, and there will be prohibited items that are identified.”

Coolers and large bags will be banned at the outdoor music site. Small bags will be searched. Clear plastic totes are recommended.

The Omni Hotel is booked as NCAA Headquarters during Final Four weekend. The Dallas Sheraton will host an NCAA coaches’ convention. The Hilton Anatole will host two of the finals teams. The Renaissance and Hyatt Regency will each host a team.

“Which ever team wins there is going to be a celebration at that hotel with sponsors and we will provide security for that,” Genovesi said.

The Dallas Convention Center will host a four-day sports attraction called “Bracket Town” with youth clinics, sports activities and autograph sessions.

"Bracket Town" will operate Friday, April 4 through Monday, April 7.

Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedics are part of the safety plan for all the public events.

“They’ve been there. They’ve controlled that before. They’ve had situations before and I don’t think we’ll have problems,” Dallas City Council member Sheffie Kadane said.

Downtown Dallas road construction could complicate traffic flow and parking will be very limited.

Police urge visitors to leave their cars at home and use public transporation. 

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