By Bret Scroggins
The 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four Championship game in Phoenix will conclude in April, however the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee (PLOC) is making sure its impact is felt long after the games are over. The PLOC wants attendees to embrace all that the Valley of the Sun has to offer by encouraging fans to “Live like a Phoenician” while visiting. In addition, other organizations such as the Maricopa County Food System Coalition and Local First Arizona are being engaged to activate a culture that promotes localism before, during, and after the events.
In order to “Move like a Phoenician,” visitors and locals will be encouraged to take advantage of the many alternative methods of transportation in the Valley. This includes discounted access to the Grid Bike bicycle share program, free bike valets, designated rideshare areas at the events, and the Valley Metro mass transit system.
The Phoenix Metropolitan area has numerous resources that can help make the Final Four events the most sustainable to date. The Committee aims to create a noticeable increase in public and alternative transportation methods during the days surrounding the Final Four tournament. By doing so, the PLOC will be able to educate those attending the events on subjects including how to utilize public transportation, the importance of bicycle safety, and the benefits of using bikes as an alternative means of transportation. Providing more sustainable options of transportation allows the PLOC to influence a change in behavior and encourage long-term habits.
Grid Bike Share
Grid Bike Share is a transit system consisting of a network of stations conveniently located throughout downtown and midtown Phoenix. These stations consist of bicycles that are publically available for short-term rental with several fare options. A Grid Bike can be reserved online, through their mobile app, or at the bike stations using their keypads. Once the bike is reserved, a four-digit code is entered to unlock and release the bike. When fans are done, they simply lock the bike at one of the conveniently located hubs.
To encourage visitors and locals to participate in more sustainable transportation methods, Grid Bike rentals will be offered at a discounted rate to fans during the week of the Final Four events. In addition, volunteers participating in the Music Fest or Fan Fest will be able to ride for free.
To supplement the use of bicycles to and from the events, the PLOC will have bike valet locations in the surrounding areas. The valet locations will provide fans supervised bicycle parking while they enjoy the events. Numerous bike advocate groups including Tempe Bicycle Action Group, Bicycle Coalition at ASU, and Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists will be organizing the efforts in hopes of creating a noticeable carbon offset during the Final Four events. These groups, along with volunteers, will help participants with the check-in process and also provide knowledge about bicycle safety, maintenance and tune-up opportunities.
The NCAA March Madness Music Festival will have bike valets at and around Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix. The Final Four Fan Fest will also have bike valets conveniently located at the Phoenix Convention Center. These locations will also serve as donation centers where fans can donate unwanted bicycles, which will then be distributed to foster children across the Valley through the Recycle Your Bicycle charity.
Valley Metro is a Valley-wide transit system that serves the greater Phoenix area. This alternative method of transportation is frequently used by Phoenicians and has the ability to move large amounts of people. Their bus and light rail systems will be expanded to accommodate the increased ridership during the week of the tournament.
Music Fest at Hance Park can be accessed using the Valley Metro Light Rail system with a station at Central Avenue and McDowell Road. The Phoenix Convention Center is also conveniently located near many major hotels and can be accessed using the Light Rail system with stops at Third Street and Washington, as well as Third Street and Jefferson.
The NCAA Final Four events will take place April 1-3. For more information on the Final Four’s green initiatives and to attend the events, visit phoenixfinalfour.com.
Bret Scroggins is a student at Arizona State University studying Business: Sports and Media Studies. He is an advocate of utilizing the power of sports to change and promote sustainable behaviors within the community.