During the 5-day window of April 3–7, 2020, thousands of basketball fans were set to descend upon Atlanta and be entertained by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Basketball Final Four. In conjunction with the Final Four, the Division II and Division III Men’s Basketball Championships, as well as the National Association of Basketball Coaches Convention, were also to be held in Atlanta that weekend. The NCAA staff and the Atlanta Basketball Host Committee (ABHC) planned the large-scale events, as well as numerous smaller community-related events. They secured more than 2,000 volunteers to host the events in multiple private and public facilities, including Mercedes-Benz Stadium, State Farm Arena, the Georgia World Congress Center, and Centennial Olympic Park.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), NCAA President Mark Emmert announced on March 11 that the Final Four events would be spectator free and then officially cancelled the events a day later, 3 weeks before they were to occur (Norlander, 2020). On March 24, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a stay-at-home order. Instead of being in the final weeks of preparation for hosting a major championship, the NCAA and ABHC quickly refocused their efforts to manage the logistics of a cancelled event. A major event, such as the NCAA Final Four, often provides a lasting legacy for the host community (e.g., Oja, Wear, & Clopton, 2018). For the ABHC specifically, the event’s impact and legacy for the community were now in question. Through this case study, we assessed the legacy-creation efforts of the NCAA and ABHC, despite the lack of an event, and investigated the impact the nonevent had on the host committee and community.
Cianfrone, B. A., & Kellison, T. B. (2020). The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on a major event legacy: The 2020 National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Final Four. International Journal of Sport Communication, Special Issue: Coronavirus, 13(3), 419-426. DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1123/ijsc.2020-0244