New Orleans is about to become the center of the college basketball universe. It will do so in its unique way.
March Madness will conclude in the Caesars Superdome with the national semifinals. Better known as the Final Four on Saturday, Apr. 2 and the championship game on Monday, Apr. 4.
There’s a lot more than just the three college basketball games taking place. This being New Orleans — and New Orleans is like nowhere else on Earth — Final Four events include a parade (naturally) and a March Madness Music Festival.
In an event last month to announce all the various festivities, Kelly Schulz of New Orleans and Company, a tourism group in the city, said the crowds would get a good look at the Crescent City and how it has responded after the COVID-19 epidemic. Schulz said:
“It has millions of dollars of economic impact and really immeasurable impact, if you think about how many viewers are going to be watching these games all over the country and seeing New Orleans as one of the best host cities there is for sporting events.”
According to some reports, the 2021 Final Four games attracted just over 25 million viewers for the Final Four doubleheader and 16.9 million watching the tournament final.
How do I get a ticket to the NCAA Final Four?
There are multiple ticket packages available through NCAA.com. The base package, what the NCAA calls the “Virtual NCAA Fan Experience,” starts at $332.25 a ticket. That will get you into the Caesars Superdome with a spot midway in the terrace as of Monday morning.
There are other ticket packages available, including a VIP Fan Experience that starts at $1,312.50 which also gives you pre-game court access.
I’m in New Orleans, what’s the weekend schedule?
Where’s the party on Friday?
If the ticket prices are a bit too steep for you, that’s OK, you can still see the Final Four teams participating at the open practice in the Superdome on Friday.
Each of the four teams (I hope you had at least one in your bracket) will practice at the Superdome starting at 11 a.m. local time for an hour. The exact schedule is to be announced. Doors open for the Superdome at 10 a.m.
Friday is also the start of the Capital One FanFest at the Morial Convention Center. Doors open at noon. You know the drill. Interactive games, contests, the NCAA championship trophy will be there. Kids under 12 are free. 10 bucks at the door.
There will also be a pep rally at 4 p.m. and a Women’s Final Four viewing party.
Friday is also the first night of the March Madness Music Festival in Woldenberg Park. This is right on the river. Tell your Uber driver to take you to the Aquarium and you’ll be right there ready to jam.
What’s happening on Saturday?
On Saturday the FanFest opens at 10 a.m. and Day 2 of the music festival starts at 2:30 p.m. Saturday’s headliners are Khalid and BIA.
Then, it’s basketball time at the Superdome. The first semifinal tips at 5:09 p.m. with the second one at approximately 7:49 p.m. No cutting down the nets after this one.
Keep going, where’s the Sunday party?
After mass, remember, New Orleans is a church-going town, the FanFest reopens at noon.
If you need your basketball fix, head over to Lakefront Arena on campus at the University of New Orleans for the HBCU All-Star Game at 3 p.m.
Sunday is the final day of the March Madness Music Festival. It starts at 3 p.m. and is headlined by:
- Imagine Dragons
- New Orleans legend Trombone Shorty
How about Monday?
Things cool off a bit in the city for Monday. The FanFest opens at noon. Since it’s the last day, it’s when all the merchandise goes on sale – friendly advice.
The national championship game tips off around 8:20 p.m. local time. Nets will be trimmed at around 10:45 p.m. Unless there is overtime.
Did you say something about a parade?
Of course, you can’t have a big event in New Orleans without a parade.
Sunday, there is a youth basketball parade downtown. Kids under 18 are encouraged to sign up. Each will get a basketball to dribble through the streets, a custom shirt and free admittance to Fan Fest.
The parade starts around 3 p.m. (remember, in New Orleans, no parade starts on time).
What about Bourbon Street?
Yeah, Bourbon Street doesn’t do anything special for the Final Four. Why would it ever change? The party never stops in the French Quarter, but please, drink responsibly.
This one is for the coaches
The first real official event for Final Four weekend in New Orleans is Mar. 31 with the opening of the National Association of Basketball Coaches Convention.
The annual meeting of coaches from around the country is a hotspot of a job market. If you ever wanted to break into coaching, this is where you want to be. But it also provides clinics and educational opportunities.
The convention runs through Apr. 4.
Where is the NCAA Final Four in 2023?
Houston, Texas will host the Final Four next year at NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans NFL franchise.