Scott Ball / Rivard Report
College basketball fans from across the country will soon begin arriving in San Antonio for this weekend’s NCAA Men’s Final Four, which returns to the city for the first time in a decade.
While many attendees’ focus will remain largely on the matchups between Michigan and Loyola-Chicago and between Kansas and Villanova, other events and activities, such as music and fan festivals, will also take place around downtown this weekend. Event schedules, information, and game tickets may be found through the NCAA Final Four San Antonio mobile app, downloadable on Apple and Android products.
Officials with the City of San Antonio, which last hosted the Men’s Final Four in 2008, have prepared transportation and security plans to ensure the event is both family-friendly and safe.
Music Festival & Fan Fest
The three-day March Madness Music Festival begins at 4 p.m. on Friday and will feature country music star Jason Aldean. Imagine Dragons will headline Saturday’s show with doors opening at 2 p.m., and Maroon 5 will close out Sunday’s show which starts at 3 p.m. Other musical acts performing throughout the weekend include Kelsea Ballerini, Luis Fonsi, OneRepublic, and Panic! At The Disco.
Although admission to the music festival at Hemisfair Park is free on a first-come, first-serve basis, organizers recommend that attendees arrive early as they expect to reach capacity on all three days. The festival ends at 10 p.m. every night. To view a livestream of the festival’s performances, click here.
Game and musical festival attendees alike must adhere to a clear-bag policy that mandates any bag larger than 5.5-by-8.5 inches be see-through. More than 100,000 clear bags will be available in downtown hotels, businesses, and event locations throughout the weekend.
Fan Fest, a slate of activities and events taking place inside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and other nearby locations, will feature celebrity appearances, interactive games, and autograph signings by current San Antonio Spurs players Danny Green and Tony Parker on Saturday, among others.
Transportation and Security
The influx of people during Final Four weekend is bound to increase traffic and affect its flow, so the the City’s police and fire departments will be closely monitoring both to ensure motorist and pedestrian safety. Some roads around Hemisfair Park, the Convention Center, and the Alamodome will be closed beginning Wednesday at 7 p.m. through Monday at 1 p.m.
Those closures include Alamo Street from Market Street to Cesar Chavez Boulevard, Nueva Street from Presa to Alamo streets, and the Interstate 37 North frontage road from Cesar Chavez to Commerce Street.
“You have some great options for traveling around San Antonio,” said Jeffrey Arndt, VIA Metropolitan Transit’s president and chief executive officer, during a Monday press conference outlining transportation options and security protocols.
VIA will operate a park-and-ride service Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Riders may park their vehicles at any of the three locations listed below and be dropped off and picked up at the intersection of East Houston Street and Avenue E.
- Crossroads Park and Ride, 151 Crossroads Blvd.
- Blossom Athletic Center, 12002 Jones Maltsberger Rd.
- Madla Park and Ride, 1584 Cantrell Dr.
The park and ride will run from 2-11 p.m. on Friday, noon-11 p.m. on Saturday, and 1-11 p.m. on Sunday. Fare for the ride is $2.50 each way, with discounts available for children, seniors, students, and active-duty military members.
There will be designated pick-up and drop-off locations for rideshare users around the footprint of the event, and more than 26,000 downtown parking spots for those who choose to drive themselves. For more information on parking downtown, click here.
SWell Cycle bicycles will be available to rent throughout the weekend, and bikes will be available free of charge on Friday.
In light of recent attacks that have made headlines across the nation, City officials said they have taken precautions to thwart potential security threats. San Antonio Police Chief William McManus during Monday’s press conference said his department has partnered with 12 other agencies to collect intelligence in order to keep the event safe.
“We want to reassure everybody that we have been working with a number of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to make this a safe event for everyone,” McManus said.
McManus, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood, and San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley all emphasized that attendees should report suspicious activity or unattended bags to 911 or authorities on the scene throughout the weekend-long events.
“If you see something that’s suspicious, then let someone know,” Hood said. “Trust your instincts.”