Dallas, AAC Ready for March Madness

DALLAS, TEXAS - MARCH 29: A view of the March Madness logo at center court ahead of the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at American Airlines Center on March 29, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. | Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Dallas is hosting the 2024 Men’s NCAA Tournament at the American Airlines Center this weekend.

The Men’s NCAA Tournament has come to Dallas, or at least the DFW, 13 previous times, and last visited the area in 2018 as the AAC hosted first and second-round games for the South Regional. The tournament always has a substantial impact, with an expected $14 million coming into Dallas this weekend, according to the Dallas Sports Commission.

But that impact can go well beyond numbers and money.

“I think it brings an energy and a dynamic to our downtown area, but then it also provides opportunities to some of our kids, residents, and future basketball stars here to maybe see a game in person,” Monica Paul, executive director of the Dallas Sports Commission told The Dallas Express. “I think it continues to establish us as a premier sports destination, which is one of our key initiatives, and you get the media and TV exposure of having the game on TV.”

The AAC also hosted the Women’s Final Four last season, and the Final Four is returning to Arlington in 2030, as the North Texas area continues to pick up steam as a “sports city” on the heels of being named the No.1 city for sports business by the Sports Business Journal last year.

While the experiences can help set the tone for the weekend, the process of preparing for the events can be quite different.

“There’s a lot more planning and a lot more staff and committee work needed on a Final Four compared to a first or second round regional,” Paul explained. “Doesn’t mean that a lot of planning hasn’t been taking place over the last 10 months, but it’s definitely at a different level on the Final Four side.”

Still, hosting the South Regional Semifinals and Final is another significant step in the process as Dallas and the North Texas area continue to establish the area as a “sports mecca” of sorts, and the Dallas Sports Commission says the sky’s the limit.

“I see a lot of work between, not just the sports commission and my team here, but leadership within the cities and the communities,  some of the visions of what our cities and regions are becoming, and start to see the increased number of events, too, that we’re hosting,” Paul told The Dallas Express.

“It was an honor last year to be named the number one Sports Business City by Sports Business Journal. In the future, I see [Dallas] continuing to climb,” Paul continued. “… The World Cup is going to be very, very special and kind of the pinnacle, but I want to see another Super Bowl, another NBA and WNBA All-Star weekend, a Rugby World Cup, and Women’s World Cup.”

Those working within the arena are also taking measures to prepare for the weekend as the game schedule is somewhat fluid due to the nature of the tournament, and Sunday’s tip-off time may not be announced until after Friday’s games conclude.

“They have to put a lot of trust into us as our venue staff,” American Airlines Center senior events manager James Taylor told The Dallas Express. “We’re going set you guys up for success, but just know we’re not gonna know this game time until late Friday night. … Thankfully, the court doesn’t change too much other than some signage on the court itself from the Sweet 16 to Elite Eight logo at the baseline, but it’s definitely a challenge for our guest services, operations, parking, housekeeping, and a lot of departments that depend on part-time labor or temporary labor.”

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