Albion may be 95 miles from Detroit, but the distance did not discourage Albion College students from attending the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four at Ford Field.
“The energy downtown (Detroit) was unreal,” said Matt Rodeghier, Farmington Hills senior, “I have not seen the city like that since the Superbowl.”
An estimated 100,000 people visited Detroit for the Final Four weekend, bringing an anticipated $30-$50 million in revenue according to CNN.com
In all, there were ten arrests made in the five day period that Detroit hosted the Final Four.
“It has been a rough year for Michigan, and it’s good to see something positive in the city (Detroit),” said Mark Szandzik, Grosse Pointe junior.
The state of Michigan boasts the nation’s highest unemployment rate with 12 percent and the auto industry’s Big Three are seeking billion dollar government bailouts.
“I think Michigan State making it to the championship game is just what this state and the residents of the state need,” said Vicki Sweitzer, Professor of economics. “People really came out to show their pride and support, and it was great to be there and see that.”
Fans came out in record numbers. For Saturday’s semifinals, 72,456 people attended the matchups of Michigan State vs. University of Connecticut, and University of North Carolina vs. Villanova. Saturday’s Final Four was the largest attendance in Final Four history.
“My dad bought tickets to the game for us after the Sweet 16 game against Kansas,” said Amy Saunders, Bloomfield Hills junior. “I have been a (Michigan) State fan since I was born. Our basement in my house is painted green and white.”
Michigan State lost in the National Championship to North Carolina on Monday, April 6. The Tarheels won, 89-72. Despite the loss, State fans and other basketball fans found other sources of entertainment besides basketball.
“I went to the concerts and to Hoop City before the game and had a ton of fun,” Saunders said. “I think the city was well prepared.”
Detroit’s Riverfront had activities going on throughout the weekend. As for live music, performers included Jesse McCartney and the Pussycat Dolls. Kristen Kent, Grosse Pointe junior, helped work the Final Four Riverfront.
“I have worked the Superbowl and the Redbull air races when the Renaissance Center puts on events, and the Final Four was a great success,” Kent said. “The Renaissance Hotel was at 99 percent capacity, and lately they have been having a lot of trouble filling rooms. They had shuttle buses making a loop around the city 24-7, too.”
Albion students were not the only ones impressed with Detroit hosting the Final Four. In a Detroit Free Press article, NCAA executive vice president Tom Jernstet said, “Detroit has done a marvelous job. We’re thrilled to be here. This part of the country deserves to have the NCAA Final Four.”