Gavitt said State Farm Arena’s proximity to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as well as to downtown hotels and the Georgia World Congress Center, works well for the added games.
“The footprint here really makes it attractive,” he said. “I know we would have concerns in other places where the venue would not be so convenient to the downtown area.”
Admission “likely” will be free for the Divisions II and III title games next year, Gavitt said, as it was in 2013 when the back-to-back games drew about 14,000 fans to what was then called Philips Arena. Starting times haven’t been set but will be in the afternoon hours, Gavitt said.
“Opening the building and hosting these games with no admission (charge) so fans can see this incredible Division II and III basketball that we don’t really give that much exposure to … makes a contribution, I think, to the overall effort in the year of basketball in Atlanta,” said Steve Koonin, CEO of the Hawks and State Farm Arena.
Carl Adkins, executive director of the Atlanta Basketball Host Committee, said discussions began “a year or so ago” about adding the games to the lineup of Final Four-related events, which also will include Fan Fest in the Congress Center and Music Fest in Centennial Olympic Park.
“It just creates that much more excitement for the basketball fan,” Adkins said of the additional games. “It’s going to be 24/7 basketball.”
The Final Four will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on April 4 (semifinals) and April 6 (championship game). The event has been played in Atlanta four times previously at buildings that no longer exist -- 1977 at The Omni and 2002, 2007 and 2013 at the Georgia Dome.
“It is truly ... one of the best places to hold the Final Four,” Gavitt said of Atlanta.