By Carl Adkins
The one that wasn’t. That’s what the 2020 Men’s Final Four is likely to be called in the future. Upon writing this, tomorrow was to be Final Four Friday. Peak arrival of 80,000 fans coming to Atlanta ready for an exciting weekend of championship basketball and other amazing events. I guess It just wasn’t in the cards…
I feel a little selfish posting about this given the current situation across the globe, but felt I couldn’t let the day go by without tipping my cap to the literally thousands of the sports and hospitality professionals who had put in, and were ready to put in, a tremendous ATL effort to make this the best Final Four ever.
Airport workers, hotel staff, public safety personnel, restaurants and attractions, venue staff at the stadium for “The Big Dance,” the arena staff for the DII & DIII championships, Centennial Olympic Park’s staff for the concert series, Georgia Tech and Georgia State staff – the host institutions for the championships – over 2,000 volunteers ready to serve, literally hundreds of event professionals to bring it all to life and the Congress Center staff for the many other ancillary events, all were ready for our moment on the national stage. All of these amazing people had invested so much time, energy and effort to ensure this would have been the crowning jewel of Atlanta’s trifecta of major sporting events – the CFP National Championship in 2018 and Super Bowl LIII last year and the Final Four this year.
Now, so many of these same wonderful people are just trying to figure out how to keep going. How to stay healthy and safe, pay the rent, feed and care for their families, pay the bills while wondering what the next few weeks and months hold … truly, uncharted waters.
While the gravity of our collective situation helps put things in perspective, I still hate that all of these amazing events that bring so much joy to so many aren’t happening this year. The student-athletes who could have made the “One Shining Moment” highlight reel, the media covering the events for the fans back home, the thousands of people enjoying live music in a most beautiful setting and the millions tuned in around the country to watch the magic of March Madness’s thrilling conclusion.
My sincere thanks to the amazing NCAA staff for all of their hard work and partnership with us as a host community and last but certainly not least, our host committee team. They’ve worked tirelessly to make sure that Atlanta was represented at its best. We were all so close to the finish line of four years of outstanding, raise the bar “and one” efforts … all to have it dissipate in a matter of hours a couple of weeks ago.
While the last few weeks has helped all of us locally prepare for the “one that wasn’t,” it’s still hard to take. The weather forecast this weekend? Gorgeous. Perfect Georgia Spring weather that would feed in to the azaleas in bloom next weekend in Augusta. A couple of weeks of the best annual events in the country – produced by the best for the rest. It just wasn’t in the cards. My heart breaks for everyone involved. It also breaks for so many that are suffering across the country with our new next normal. So, for now, we just have to accept … this was the one that wasn’t.
Peace to all…
IAVM member Carl Adkins has served as Executive Director of the Atlanta Football Host Committee & Atlanta Basketball Host Committee and for 20 years prior to that was General Manager of the Georgia Dome.