It's Final Four time in Houston

An unlikely foursome of teams will be at Reliant Stadium for the Final Four. (AP photos)
April 1, 2011 4:36:01 PM PDT
All eyes are on Houston this weekend as college basketball's biggest tournament gets underway at Reliant Stadium. The city of Houston should see a payoff as the Final Four teams remaining in the men's NCAA basketball tournament have arrived this week preparing for two semifinal games on Saturday, with the championship game Monday.

Hotels are seeing higher occupancy rates, and restaurants and bars will see higher sales. Transportation services, like taxis, will also be extra busy.

Fans will have plenty of time away from those games to spend money, pumping tens of millions of dollars into our local economy at restaurants, in clubs, and of course, staying in hotels such as Hotel Derek, the hotel hosting Virginia Commonwealth.

"We are rolling out the red carpet for them, just like we do for all our guests, but tonight we're just doing it literally," said Jessica Henry with Hotel Derek. "We are very excited about our partnership with the NCAA. Everything that we have been able to do with them, from the wrap on the outside of the building to actually hosting one of the teams here. It's a real excited time for us.

The championship tournament is expected to bring in just over $38 million into Houston

Festivities around town:

You can get a preview of the Final Four teams at Reliant Stadium today. Practice is open to the public from 12pm to 4pm. Virginia Commonwealth takes the floor for the first hour, followed by Kentucky, Butler and Connecticut. There's no admission fee.

The practices are followed by the college all-star game.

Tailgating for Saturday's games starts at 1pm and there will be live music, cheerleaders and plenty of Texas barbecue. Ticket holders get free admission. Reliant Stadium doors open at 3pm for a pep rally, and the tailgate ends at 4pm.

There are lots more fan activities at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Bracket Town features interactive games, prizes and appearances from basketball players and coaches. It's open through Monday. Admission is $6 for children ages three to 11 and $10 for adults.


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