'I love Houston': Fans give city glowing review as NCAA Final Four basketball tourney gets underway

Briana Conner Image
Sunday, April 2, 2023
Final Four in Houston: Fans across country arrive to enjoy festivities
Final Four weekend in Houston was in full swing as hundreds of fans descended upon the Bayou City to watch their teams compete and join in on all the fun.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The city of Houston was in full swing as the NCAA Fan Fest made its way downtown with tons of family-friendly fun.

Space City turned into a tournament town, showing fans from Florida, California, and Connecticut how hospitable Houston can be.

John Coughlan is a UConn fan and says he has a great love for the Bayou City. "I love Houston. Houston has been great," he said.

On the opposite side, Myles Parr came to support San Diego State. "It's been fun. The FanFest is awesome. It's just been great, " Parr said.

SEE ALSO: San Diego State heads to 1st national championship game after buzzer-beater win against FAU

Dana Sokoloff graduated from the tournament's Cinderella team, Florida Atlantic University. "So far, so much fun," she said, "Just seeing all the fans and all the teams here and celebrating and enjoying this good time."

The madness, however, was more like sadness for some local fans. Kayson Soto said it was tough to find a team to root for because he's a University of Houston fan who was sadly eliminated in the Sweet Sixteen tournament.

However, the city worked hard to give everyone something to root for, regardless of whether they were into the games. Thousands of people were expected to attend Saturday night's music festival, where Lil Nas X was the headliner.

Lil Nas X fans said they wanted to see a good show but also wanted the openly queer artist to take a stance. "I'm hoping he says something about all the trans bills going on. I'm hoping he makes a statement," said fan Rowan Randsall.

With the Astros playing as well, there was action on almost every corner.

SEE ALSO: What happened when Houston 1st hosted what would become the Final Four in 1971 at Astrodome

However, the main event was on the minds of people who flew into Houston from the coasts.

"I think we're going to have a solid team game. I think we're going to pull it out at the end, like 68-64," Miami superfan Jared Spooner said.

"I'm just hoping for the win," said Parr.

"I think I got Huskies 82-68," said Coughlan, "Not even close."

"I'm going to go with Owls. Hoot hoot, " Sokoloff added.

There was still plenty to do, even for those who weren't into college hoops. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said he was proud of the city because the last two nights at FanFest went off largely without a hitch.

RELATED: City leaders share Final Four security plans ahead of events ahead of Final Four Weekend

The lawn at Discovery Green is where hundreds of people in the NCAA Men's Final Four host city did not care about basketball.

The Pena family from Houston went downtown to catch the Astros game.

Samantha Williams, a Houstonian, said there was so much going on in the city that she didn't know which game was happening.

"I don't even know what game is playing right now," Williams said. "I love my city. I feel like nobody compares to Houston. We're just different. We're just built differently," she said.

The free music festival drew out a different type of fan, even some who traveled a few states over to join the festivities.

Jailen Wright came in from Louisiana mainly to see Megan Thee Stallion on Friday. "I also wanted to see Lil Nas and Flo Milli," she said. "They're some of my favorite artists."

SEE HERE: Houston's own Megan Thee Stallion to headline NCAA March Madness Music Festival

Many enjoyed the competitive events inside the George R. Brown Convention Center.

The fun continues as plenty of activities are happening to hold fans over until the championship game on Monday at 8:20 p.m.

On Sunday, there will be a Men's Final Four Dribble, where youth 18 and under will dribble a one-mile course from City Hall to the Men's Final Four Fest and Tim McGraw and Keith Urban are headlining the Capital One JamFest stage.

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