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FanFest to profit from Fla. sun
ACC commissioner John Swofford said that every site for the league tournament puts a stamp on the event that distinguishes it from any other spot.
By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published March 8, 2007
TAMPA - ACC commissioner John Swofford said that every site for the league tournament puts a stamp on the event that distinguishes it from any other spot.
For Tampa and the St. Pete Times Forum, that might just be the unique and expansive FanFest area on the plaza and newly paved section of parking lot adjacent to the building.
Open to fans without tickets, it will include the usual interactive games and vendors you'd see in Greensboro or Charlotte or Atlanta, but there also will be large video boards showing the games as well as projection of the games on the garage wall. Historically, the league has wanted the fun to stop outside when the games begin inside.
"You've got an opportunity weather-wise to do something unique in Florida that in March is rather risky, whether it's in D.C. or North Carolina or even Atlanta," Swofford said. "I think that'll be fun. I think it's creative. I think the fans will respond very, very well to that."
"It's going to be an unbelievable atmosphere," added Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. "We hope it's reminiscent of the Stanley Cup playoffs when we had more people outside the building than inside. It'll be a great atmosphere to walk out into after the games as well."
Without saying as much, organizers realize they need local basketball fans at the Times Forum before and after games to create a pool of customers who might buy tickets from folks planning to leave town once their team loses. No one wants empty seats. That doesn't play well on television and that doesn't help Tampa Bay position itself for a return engagement.