Fans give Atlanta a slam dunk for Final Four performance

ATLANTA -- Less than 24 hours after hosting its fourth Final Four NCAA Basketball tournament, the city of Atlanta is getting mostly rave reviews from fans.

Even from those whose teams lost, like hundreds who were flying out of the world's busiest airport Tuesday.

"We had an amazing time in Atlanta and one thing that we've talked about over and over is how friendly and hospitable the whole town has been," Wichita State fan Lori Owen told 11 Alive News.

"This is a great city; the people are nice, the people at the hotel were excellent; I would not hesitate to come back...period," said Syracuse fan Bob Maclin.

John Mayberry of Berkeley, California said he's been to more than 40 of the tournaments and ranks this one among his top 5 favorites.

Friendly hospitality was the most common reason all of the fans 11 Alive interviewed liked their Atlanta experience.

Mayor Kasim Reed also said it was the most common compliment he heard from the many fans he met over the last 4 days.

He also believes this year's Final Four only further cemented Atlanta's reputation as a great big event destination.

"The City of Atlanta is the capital of the south and we are capable of hosting major events of all kinds as well as any city in the United States," Reed said.

While final numbers aren't in yet, the mayor gave estimates of more than 100,000 fans who came for the games and more than 25,000 locals who enjoyed many of the downtown events, including free concerts.

Monday night's championship game broke an NCAA attendance record with 74,000.

The mayor said the tournament brought around $70-million into the local economy.

Final crime statistics aren't in either, but Reed said the police department believes they made only "a few dozen" arrests during the event.

He praised the city's public safety workers and more than 2,000 volunteers for helping keep fans safe and happy.

Late Tuesday MARTA released figures claiming a 78% increase in train passengers, carrying 1,140,000 over 4 days.

The mass transit agency admitted long lines and waiting times at stations indicated "there's need for improvement."

Citing 15-million TV viewers for Monday night's final game and more in nearly 200 countries, he said the event built more clout for the city's reputation.

Reed said the city plans to compete heavily for another Final Four tourney, as well as a third Super Bowl, especially with a new stadium planned for 2017.

He'd also like Atlanta to host a BCS college football championship and become a home for a major league soccer team.


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