Georgia Dome, downtown Atlanta get Final Four makeover - KMSP-TV

Georgia Dome, downtown Atlanta get Final Four makeover

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ATLANTA -

The countdown is on for the big Final Four weekend in Atlanta. The first game isn't until Saturday, but preparations have been underway for days in downtown Atlanta.

Those preparations include a huge makeover for the Georgia Dome – new seats, a new video board and a large, new basketball court!

"Yeah, you're going to see a completely different Georgia Dome then you've ever seen before," said Jason Kirksey with the Georgia Dome.

The home of the Falcons is now the home of the Final Four.

"About two years ago, we started meeting monthly with the NCAA. A lot of our staff went to New Orleans last year. A lot of our staff went to the Final Four the year before," said Kirksey.
    
Inside the dome, workers removed 8,000 red seats, and added about 18,000 black ones. They sit on metal risers, which give better sightlines to the court. The court was trucked in and then hand-pieced together like a puzzle. High above it all is a new, eight-sided video board, weighing a whopping 189,000 pounds.

Outside, the Georgia Dome will be displaying vibrant signs. All the work was done to make the Final Four's Diamond Anniversary a sparkling success.

"There's only going to be one 75th anniversary, and we're very proud to know it's in Atlanta this year," Kirksey said.

The only people getting to look at the work on Thursday are the teams themselves. They had walk-throughs and practices in the Georgia Dome. Those sessions were closed off to the media.

There are three players in the Final Four with Georgia ties, including Louisville star Kevin Ware. Ware arrived in Atlanta with his University of Louisville team on Wednesday. The former Rockdale County High School star was thrust into the national spotlight last weekend when he sustained a graphic leg injury on the court during the NCAA tournament.

Ware says he wants the focus to be not so much on him, but on the team and winning the Final Four.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and other local officials kicked off the 75th celebration of March Madness and the 2013 Final Four weekend.

"We going to have some of the best basketball in the United States of America over the next few days and couldn't be more excited," Reed said. "As a city, we are excited because we believe large scale events are what we do best."

More than 100,000 fans are expected in Atlanta for the festivities.

Music lovers will treated to a free three-day concert series featuring big-name national acts such as the Zac Brown Band, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Flo Rida, Ludacris, Muse, Sting and the Dave Matthews Band.

Of course, not everyone will be lucky enough to get inside the dome. But thousands of fans from out of state will be in Atlanta anyway.

Those looking for fun for all ages, the Bracket Town fan fest at the Georgia World Congress Center will offer more than 300,000 square feet of family-friendly activities.

Several area restaurants are adopting teams and serving as fan headquarters.

Here's the full list of the fan headquarters locations:

Buckhead
Michigan: Buffalo Wild Wings, 3535 Peachtree Rd NE #105, Atlanta (404) 856-5543
Syracuse: East Andrews Downstairs, 56 E Andrews Dr NW, Suite 12, Atlanta (404) 389-0856
Wichita State: Taco Mac Lindbergh, 573 Main St NE  Atlanta, (404) 574-5813
Louisville: The Bucket Shot, 3475 Lenox Rd NE  Atlanta, (404) 261-9244

Downtown

Michigan: Gibney's Pub, 231 Peachtree Center Ave NE  Atlanta, (404) 688-0928
Syracuse: Azio, 229 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta,  (404) 222-0808
Wichita State: Max Lagers, 320 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, (404) 525-4400
Louisville: Meehan's, 200 Peachtree Street Atlanta, (404) 214-9821

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