It’s been six years since the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission won the right to host the 2007 NCAA Women’s Final Four. And when the first two contending teams face off on the Quicken Loans Arena hardwood, it’ll represent two-and-a-half years worth of steady planning by local organizers.
“From a domestic-events standpoint, it is the largest economic-impact event Cleveland could get to host,” says Greater Cleveland Sports Commission president and CEO David Gilbert, adding that the Super Bowl and men’s NCAA Final Four require a domed stadium. “It’ll mean somewhere around $30 [million] to $35 million for the local economy.”
And even though tickets are scarce, a full slate of local events scheduled to coincide with the tournament’s finale will allow all of us to take part in the March Madness.
“We’re hoping to make this Final Four bigger and better than any Women’s Final Four that the NCAA has hosted,” says Cindy Schulz, director of public affairs for The Cleveland Foundation, a sponsor of the activities. Visit www.womenrockcleveland.com
for a complete schedule. Here were a few that caught our eye:
City Club “Friday Forum” with Billie Jean King
The pioneering tennis legend talks about her storied career. March 30 at noon; Wolstein Center; Visit www.cityclub.org for more information.
Title IX Birthday Hoopla
Celebrate the 35th anniversary of Title IX with famous female athletes and celebrities, including hosts Billie Jean King and USA Today columnist Christine Brennan. March 30, 8 - 11 p.m., Tower City Center; free
Rockin’ Rally and Basketball Bounce
Thousands of kids dribbling basketballs, cheerleaders and high school marching bands join forces for a parade and rally. March 31, bounce begins at 10 a.m. at the Galleria at Erieview, rally follows at 11 a.m. on Mall C; free
Check out basketball clinics, interactive displays and autograph sessions with NCAA coaches and great players from the past. March 31, April 1 & 2; Cleveland Convention Center; For more information, visit www.hoop-city.com
Cleveland native Semeka Randall was a member of the NCAA national champion Tennessee squad in 1998. Now an assistant basketball coach at Michigan State University, the former Trinity High School hoops star talked to us about her thoughts on this year’s Final Four and the women’s game:
The women’s tournament often gets overshadowed. What would you say to a basketball fan who tends to overlook it?
Women are now playing above the rim. And, when you look from a male perspective, [men] enjoy the dunks and hoopla behind it. Women are doing that now. … I’m a firm believer that the women’s game is a pure game. It relies on execution, the passing of the ball, and stopping people.
Which teams look strong?
[The ACC] is really talented and tough — Duke, Maryland, North Carolina. And, I always say don’t sleep on an SEC school. That’s where I came from. You can’t sleep on Tennessee.
Any Ohio teams look like contenders?
I think you need to give credit to Ohio State for how phenomenally they’ve been doing. … There could potentially be a sleeper team in there that makes some noise. Bowling Green is doing well.
What’s it take for a team to be a success in the tournament?
Chemistry. And you want to peak at the right time. The year we won, we all jelled. I don’t think one female player on the team felt like they were bigger than the program. … You also have to have talent and execute down the stretch. The bracket is also a huge part of it. … It’s all where you’re placed at that time.