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01.26.2017

ARIZONA READIES FOR 2017 NCAA MEN’S FINAL FOUR®

Read to the Final Four bracket set for third-graders across Arizona

PHOENIX -With the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four® fast approaching, NCAA officials and the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee teamed up with Arizona leaders Wednesday to announce key details about the long-anticipated event.

Officials also unveiled the 68 schools statewide that will compete in Read to the Final Four, a March Madness®-inspired reading competition for third-graders that will crown an Arizona literacy champion during the 2017 Final Four weekend.

“We have been working for years as a community to prepare for this historic event – the first Final Four in Arizona and the first in the West since 1995,” said Dawn Rogers, executive director/CEO of the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee, which is collaborating with the NCAA to host the Final Four. “It’s almost here, and you can feel the excitement across the state. We promise that it will be an unforgettable experience for the visiting student-athletes, alumni, fans, media and NCAA corporate champions and partners, as well as Arizona residents.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers and former Arizona State University men’s basketball star Fat Lever joined the NCAA and PLOC at a news conference at the Phoenix Convention Center, which will be the site of the Final Four Fan Fest presented by Capital One.

The 2017 Final Four includes numerous legacy projects aimed at leaving a positive impact on the community long after the event. One key initiative is Read to the Final Four, whose mission is to inspire third-grade students statewide to accelerate their reading and increase achievement, using the excitement of the 2017 Final Four to spike their interests. More than 34,000 Arizona third-graders are participating in the free program, made possible through the support of Helios Education Foundation.

On Wednesday, officials selected 68 schools from the 394 schools that registered. The 68 schools will compete in a contest modeled upon the March Madness bracket, advancing based on the number of minutes read. One school will be crowned the statewide reading champion at the Final Four Celebration inside Fan Fest on March 31 in downtown Phoenix. To date, students have read more than 1.7 million minutes since the competition opened Jan. 4.

Officials also announced that work has begun on an NCAA Legacy Restoration of an outdoor basketball court at historic Harmon Park, located on Fifth Avenue just south of downtown Phoenix. The park annually serves more than 18,000 neighborhood children, many of them underprivileged. The refurbished court will be christened during the week before the Final Four.

“The Final Four is proud to leave a lasting legacy in host cities,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball. “Four deserving teams and their fan bases are going to come to this beautiful part of the country and enjoy the Final Four. We couldn’t be more excited to bring not only the Final Four, but all the fan events, as well, to Arizona and these terrific communities.”

Officials outlined plans for the following ancillary events, which are offered at free to low cost to the public (for more details, visit NCAA.com/FinalFour):

About the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee:
The Phoenix Local Organizing Committee is a nonprofit organization that is hosting the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four. The committee is composed of Arizona business, tourism and sports leaders and will collaborate with the NCAA to support the Final Four’s many ancillary events and establish legacy projects that will ensure the lasting impact of the Final Four in the valley. The PLOC will raise funds to support the event and ensure that the 2017 Final Four showcases the standard of excellence this iconic event deserves. The 2017 Final Four will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, with the national semifinals Saturday, April 1, and the national final Monday, April 3. Visit NCAA.com/FinalFour for more information.

About the NCAA
The NCAA is a diverse association of more than 1,100 member colleges and universities that prioritize academics, well-being and fairness to create greater opportunities for nearly half a million student-athletes each year. The NCAA provides a pathway to higher education and beyond for student-athletes pursuing academic goals and competing in NCAA sports. More than 54,000 student-athletes experience the pinnacle of intercollegiate athletics by competing in NCAA championships each year. Visit ncaa.org and ncaa.com for more details about the Association and the corporate partnerships that support the NCAA and its student-athletes. The NCAA is proud to have AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola as official corporate champions and the following elite companies as official corporate partners: Allstate, Amazon Echo, Bing (Microsoft), Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, Enterprise, Infiniti, LG, Lowe’s, Nabisco, Northwestern Mutual, Pizza Hut, Reese’s, Unilever and Wendy’s.