NRG Park sets up for the NCAA Final Four as Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo wraps up

Monday, March 20, 2023
Houston, say goodbye to the rodeo and say hello to NCAA Final Four
The two big events bring thousands of people across the community together. Hotels and restaurants are already booking up, with about 75,000 fans expected to travel to the Houston area for the Final Four.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After three weeks of fun rides, food, and music, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo ended on Sunday evening, but don't worry, in a little less than two weeks, the city will be jammed-packed for another main event: the NCAA championship game.

Hotels and restaurants are already booking up, with about 75,000 fans expected to travel to the Houston area for the Final Four.

This will be Houston's fourth time as the host city. The last time was in 2016.

The Final Four is expected to bring millions of dollars to our area, especially to the service industry, which is still struggling since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Money will also go to the Houston Sports Authority, which funds our sports stadiums.

The HSLR also brought in thousands of people and millions of dollars.

RELATED: The Downtown Rodeo Parade officially kicks off the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

As the sun set on Sunday evening, leaders with NRG Park spoke with ABC13 and said the night began preparation for the NCAA Final Four.

Two big events, in just a few weeks, bring thousands of people across the community and beyond together.

Whether you went to watch the rodeo, the big headline performers, or indulge in some carnival food and rides, the 2023 HLSR helped thousands of people make memories forever on the grounds of NRG Park.

"The whole entire event raises money for the scholarships. We don't know the exact numbers right now, but we do know it's going to be in the millions, and it's going to help," RodeoHouston Director of Strategic Communications Danielle Grossman said on Sunday.

RELATED: Lamar CISD student named Grand Champion, sells painting for record $275K at rodeo art auction

It's an event that gives back to students who otherwise may not be able to pursue an education. They say it's a challenging feat planning it.

"Literally planning for 2024 happens (Monday) at 8 a.m., and I will start planning because it takes effort. It takes a lot of people, it takes a village to make this happen," Grossman continued.

Assistant GM at NRG Park, Leah Mastaglio, said the next few days are going to be filled back-to-back with logistics.

"We'll be breaking down all the rodeo steel (Sunday night), moving out all of the dirt inside of the stadium, we'll be striking chairs, and our housekeeping provider will be cleaning the floor. The NCAA seating riser company will be coming in at 8 a.m. Monday. So they'll start building our seats in conjunction to us setting up our back-of-house area," Mastaglio said.

Yes, all of the rodeo dirt on the floor of the NRG Stadium will be cleaned out.

"Then the court build starts on Wednesday. So, every day around the clock, we have logistics and logistics and logistics happening to make this thing work," Mastaglio said.

She says preparations for the Final Four have been going on for about five years, so they're ready.

RELATED: Multiple road closures expected on March 18-20 in preparation for Final Four events

As excitement builds, some tell ABC13 they hope to see the Houston Coogs make it to the Final Four to play in front of their hometown.

"Go Coogs," Mastaglio said.

"The economic impact here in Houston is larger than it would be in, say, New Orleans or Orlando or something because, since we're not really a tourist city, the incremental impact of people coming to visit us is actually incremental," explained Steven Craig, University of Houston Professor of Economics.

Events will be concentrated downtown and by NRG Stadium.

"The downtown footprint is pretty amazing, especially with all of the fan events being able to be held right next to each other down here," said Rachel Quan, the VP of the Houston Local Organizing Committee. "Stadium is not too far from the metro rail, so out-of-town visitors can just jump on it for the games."

RELATED: No. 1 Houston advances to the Sweet 16 after defeating Auburn