2023 HOST CITY

2023 Men’s Final Four Fan Jam Truck revealed

Houston is on the clock! Photo by Rob Greer.

Last Friday at Discovery Green Park, the 2023 NCAA Men’s Final Four® Houston Local Organizing Committee (HLOC) and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner unveiled the Fan Jam Truck—an interactive pop-up truck—as it arrived in Houston to officially pass the proverbial Men’s Final Four host city torch from New Orleans to Houston.

Photo by Rob Greer.

The free event featured pop-up basketball goals, photo opportunities with the Men’s Final Four trophy, giveaways, mascot appearances, a reading nook and more. The Discovery Green stage came alive with band performances from the University of Houston and Texas Southern University – two of the city’s four Final Four host institutions – along with mascot appearances, interactive games for the audience and a special appearance from Mayor Turner.

Photo by Rob Greer.

Attendees brought books for elementary school students, which will be used in the upcoming Read to the Final Four literacy program for area third-grade students.

“Houston is on the clock as host city, and we are ready,” says Holly Kesterson, President of the Houston Local Organizing Committee. She adds, “of course, our city is no stranger to being an incredible host. In fact, Houston has played host to the Men’s Final Four three times already—in 1971, 2011, and 2016. In 2023, we plan to do it bigger and better than ever before.”

Over the next 12 months, the community can expect interactive Fan Jam truck appearances throughout the region; educational initiatives for elementary and college-age students; volunteer opportunities; community impact projects and much more. The tournament week in 2023 will bring fun for residents and visitors alike. On deck are the Men’s Final Four Fan Fest Presented by Capital One; the March Madness Music Festival Presented by Capital One, Coca-Cola and AT&T; and the Final Four Dribble presented by Buick, just to name a few. More information is available at https://www.ncaa.com/mens-final-four.

Organizers of large-scale events and organization leaders can apply to have the Fan Jam Truck make an appearance at their event or initiative between June 2022 and March 2023 at the following link.

About the 2023 NCAA Men’s Final Four

Houston will host the 2023 Men’s Final Four® from March 31 through April 3, 2023. Houston Baptist University, Rice University, Texas Southern University and the University of Houston will make history as the first quartet of institutions to host the Final Four. Games will be played on April 1 and 3 at NRG Stadium. The city of Houston is hosting the event for the fourth time, having previously crowned national champions in 1971, 2011 and 2016.

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This is getting out of hand. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Allsport/Getty Images.

Dr. Rick warns his patients, young homeowners who are turning into their parents, you can expect to pay more for snacks and drinks at a movie theater. It's the same deal at a professional sports venue. Three years ago, I put a down payment on a cheeseburger at Toyota Center ... I still have three more payments to go before I get it.

But this is ridiculous. The PGA Championship, the lesser (least) of golf's majors, is charging $18 for a beer, a 25-ounce Michelob Ultra, at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa. It's $19 for a Stella Artois. You can buy a six-pack for less at the supermarket. Aren't there laws against price gouging, like during a hurricane? Isn't Tulsa where the Golden Hurricanes play? Get FEMA in here. Did tournament directors get together and ponder, how can we piss off our fans? Sure, it's Tulsa and there's not much else to do, but that's no excuse.

Charging $18 for a beer makes the concession stands at Minute Maid Park look like a Sunday morning farmer's market. A 25-ounce domestic beer during an Astros game is $13.49. A 25-ounce premium beer is $14.45. Yeah, that's high for a beer, but at Minute Maid Park there are lots of hands in the till. Aramark wants to make a profit, the taxman has big mitts, and the Astros want their cut, too. Look, you want to sign Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez to an extension or not? Then drink up and don't complain. Some quiet grumbling and head-shaking is permitted, however.

You know the PGA Championship is charging too much for a beer when even the rich pampered players take notice. "18 (!!!!!) for a beer ... uhhh what," former PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas tweeted. "Good thing I don't drink a lot."

Like he will be in line for a beer at a public concession booth, anyway.

Of course there will be fans sneaking in beer in baggies strapped to their ankles, like stuffing your pockets with store-bought Snickers before going to the movies. It doesn't have to be this way. The Masters, the most prestigious golf event, charges only $5 for both domestic and imported beer. I know it's a gimmick, part of The Masters mystique along with pimento sandwiches for $1.50, but still it's a welcome gesture. You never lose when you treat the public fairly. When Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in Atlanta, Falcons owner Arthur Blank insisted that food vendors charge the same inside the stadium as they do at their regular restaurants. Same thing when Denver International Airport opened, fast food restaurants couldn't jack up their prices to their captive customers. Here? There needs to be a loan window outside the Cinnabon booth at Bush-Intercontinental.

Except for the Masters in Augusta, golf's majors aren't tied to a city. A major comes to a city maybe every few years or in most cases never. There's no need to ride into a city like the James Gang, rob the local bank, and high tail it out of town. Golf should be the last professional sport to stick it to fans. While the game has made strides to open its arms to lower-income youths, golf remains an elitist, extremely expensive sport for regular folk. Equipment is expensive, private courses are exclusive and country clubs are exclusionary. Public courses are less expensive but still expensive and crowded. Plus there's never been a professional sport more dangerously dominated by one person than golf. I can imagine network executives on their knees praying that Tiger Woods makes the cut and plays on weekends. Otherwise, TV ratings go straight into the toilet, you know, like whatever team Mattress Mack is betting on. (I joke because I love, and frankly a little scared.)

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