Final Four brings big bucks to Atlanta - New York News

Final Four brings big bucks to Atlanta

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ATLANTA -

College basketball crowned its Division I national champion at the Georgia Dome on Monday night. While there is major business happening on the hardwood, the Final Four also meant big bucks for Atlanta.

More than 100,000 fans have flooded downtown Atlanta for the tournament, not to mentioned the thousands more who came out for the free concerts at Centennial Olympic Park.

Security closed the gates to the park after it reached full capacity before the Dave Matthews Band took the stage on Sunday.

"We were anticipating that it might reach capacity. I was pleasantly surprised at how great everybody handled it. We closed down Marietta and made it a pedestrian-friendly zone. We closed one street of Centennial Olympic Park Drive and really encouraged people to enjoy the concert from outside the gates even if they couldn't get inside," said Sharon Goldmacher, the executive director of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee for the 2013 NCAA Men's Final Four.

To help accommodate the crowds, MARTA has run extra trains. Officials told FOX 5 that MARTA ridership has skyrocketed. On Saturday and Sunday, MARTA says its ridership numbers were more than 200 percent that of a normal weekend.

The economic impact is felt through money spent at hotels, restaurants, attractions and merchandise. Restaurant managers say all those customers are spending a lot more than usual.

"I would say about two and a half times as much as normal than traditional games, just because a lot of people are excited about being here at the Final Four," said Stats general manager Sean Fowler.

Basketball fan Roderic Paulman says his family has spent their resources, but he's not upset.

"You know, we came to watch good basketball. There's kind of a dues that go along with that," said Paulman.

Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed expects the Final Four will pump around $70 million into the local economy.

While the concerts series ended Sunday, Bracket Town Fan Fest continued at the Georgia World Congress Center through Monday evening. The event offered more than 300,000 square feet of family-friendly activities.

All these events culminated with the championship game on Monday at the Georgia Dome. The Louisville Cardinals faced the Michigan Wolverines on the hardwood to determine the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.

Wolverine fans said their loyalties run deep.

"Whether your grandfather, great grandfather -- anybody went to Michigan, you are a Wolverine at heart," said Michelle Emory.

Louisville fans said they hoped that the spirit shown by injured player Kevin Ware – a Georgia native – would lead them to the championship.

"It will be awesome. They are on a roll right now and I think that's going to help us," said Debbie Adkins.

Atlanta police said they had no major problems throughout the weekend.

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