Final Four Winner(s)

This was more than a sports story.

When Baylor dramatically held on to defeat Notre Dame, 82-81, in the culmination of the Women’s Final Four at Amalie Arena, it also wrapped up a win-win for the hosts. There’s a reason why we’ve held three of these Fours–and more will surely be coming. We’re good at it. From logistics and facility to amenities, inclusiveness and entertainment.

This is inviting, increasingly hip, pre-summer Tampa, a town with a downtown presence such that even Gertrude Stein would concede that there is now some THERE there–most notably the Riverwalk and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. This was about welcoming visitors, including national media, and entertaining tons of kids with a dribbling parade. This was about putting a fitting focus on one of America’s most high-profile, female events. Amalie was sold out–at 20,000-plus–on both Saturday and Monday night. In fact, total attendance at Tampa’s three Final Fours–123,039–surpasses any other three-time host.

And this was about a media marketing coup and economic infusion of at least eight figures.

Well done, Baylor Bears, national champions. And well done, Tampa Bay, magnet for championship events.

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