ATLANTA — The Final Four is coming back to Atlanta.
The NCAA announced Wednesday that Atlanta was among five cities awarded the prestigious event for the period from 2012-2016. The Georgia Dome will host the 2013 men’s Final Four, which includes two Saturday semifinal games and the Monday night final.
This will be the fourth time the Final Four has been held in Atlanta. It was played at the old Omni in 1977 and has twice been contested at the Georgia Dome, in 2002 and again in 2007 when Florida won its second straight championship with an 84-75 victory over Ohio State.
The selection committee also awarded Final Fours to New Orleans in 2012, the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2014, Indianapolis in 2015 and Houston in 2016. All will be held at domed stadiums.
Mike Slive, chairman of the NCAA’s Division I basketball committee, said past experience helped Atlanta’s bid.
“Clearly Atlanta was a very successful host of the 2007 Final Four, and obviously those were matters that the committee took into consideration,” Slive said.
The Atlanta Visitors and Convention Bureau projected an economic impact of more than $61 million — a rare bit of good news in a struggling economy, even though the event is still almost 4« years away.
“We felt that the NCAA had an incredible experience when we last hosted the Men’s Final Four in 2007, and by illustrating how this city never rests on it laurels, we strongly believed we had an excellent chance to garner one of the five available years,” said William Pate, president-elect of the organization.
“We are in great company.”
He cited the developing downtown area around Centennial Olympic Park, which already includes the still-growing Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola, along with plans to open the National Health Museum and the Center for Civil and Human Rights by 2013.
“Our great facilities, new hotels, shopping districts and attractions ... helped to convince the committee to select Atlanta as a Final Four destination,” Pate said.
The Georgia Dome staff also scored points for the way it handled last season’s Southeastern Conference tournament, when a tornado struck the stadium during the quarterfinals and damaged the exterior. The event was moved overnight to Georgia Tech’s campus arena for the final two days.
“I think what you saw there was reflected in the experience of the Georgia Dome staff,” said Slive, who also is commissioner of the SEC. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better example of grace under pressure.”
Atlanta has a long track record of hosting major events, including a pair of Super Bowls, the 1996 Olympics and all-star games for baseball, basketball and hockey.