Final Four Fun Guide

Final Four Fun Guide: How to be in the center of the action at Houston's big basketball party

Final Four Fun Guide: How to be part of Houston's big basketball party

Final Four champs in Indianapolis 2015
The scene at the NCAA championship last year in Indianapolis. Tickets should be available for Monday night's game at NRG Stadium. Courtesy of NCAA
Final Four commemorative METRO pass
METRO is offering a 4-day commemorative pass for $12. Photo courtesy of METRO
Day For Night Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar will headline the March Madness Music Festival on Saturday at Discovery Green. Photo by Roger Ho
NCAA Final Four Houston
The Final Four has landed in Houston. Courtesy photo
George R. Brown Convention Center at night May 2013
The George R. Brown Convention Center will home to Fan Fest Friday through Monday. George R. Brown Convention Center/Facebook
Final Four champs in Indianapolis 2015
Final Four commemorative METRO pass
Day For Night Kendrick Lamar
NCAA Final Four Houston
George R. Brown Convention Center at night May 2013

Even if you don't have a ticket to the Final Four matchup this weekend,  there are plenty of ways — many of them free — to be part of the action. Here's a roundup of what's going on and how to participate. And if you really have your heart set on attending the championship game next Monday, we offer some tips on how to snag a ticket without paying premium prices.

Most activities are taking place in downtown Houston or at NRG Park. Since METRORail links the two, officials are encouraging participants in any and all Final Four activities to take public transit and avoid traffic hassles. METRO is offering special commemorative four-day pass for $12. Parking garages are available in downtown, Midtown and other locations along the route if you need to drive to be closer to METRORail.

So act like a super fan and take part in these activities:

Fan Fest

Where: George R. Brown Convention Center.

When: Friday noon - 8 pm, Saturday 10 am - 7 pm, Sunday noon - 8 pm, Monday noon - 7 pm.

What: Always one of the most popular attractions of the Final Four, this interactive sports "extravaganza" includes basketball courts for exhibitions and fan games, autograph signings with former NCAA players, coaches and sports personalities, giveaways, opportunities to snap photos with the championship trophy, and free samples from NCAA sponsors.

Admission: $10 for adults; $5 for seniors, students, military; kids 12 and under free.

 

Final Four Friday

Where: NRG Stadium.

When: 11 am - 6 pm.

What: It's the best chance to see the Final Four teams up close as they practice on the court where the games will take place. Between noon and 4 pm, teams from Villanova, Oklahoma, Syracuse, and North Carolina each take the court for about an hour, capped by The Reese's College All-Star Game at 4:30 pm. Here's the lineup:

Noon - 12:50 pm —Villanova practice
1 pm - 1:50 pm  — Oklahoma practice
2 pm - 2:50 pm — Syracuse practice
2 pm - 3 pm — Reese's College All-Star team autographs
3 pm - 3:50 pm — North Carolina practice

Admission: Free.

 

March Madness Music Festival

Where: Discovery Green.

When:  Friday 4 pm - 10 pm, Saturday noon - 9 pm, Sunday 3 pm - 10 pm.

What: A superstar musical lineup each day, along with team pep rallies and interactive games, guarantee to keep downtown Houston buzzing. Here's the lineup: 

Friday, April 1
4:45 pm Lukas Graham
6:30 pm  Panic! At the Disco
8:30 pm Fall Out Boy

Saturday, April 2
1 pm Conrad Swell
2:15 pm Jason Derulo
3:45 pm Twenty-One Pilots
7:15 pm Kendrick Lamar

Sunday, April 3
3:30 pm  Aloe Blacc
5 pm  FloRida
6:30 pm Pit Bull
8:30 pm Maroon 5

Admission: Free.

 

Final Four Dribble

Where: Herman Square at Houston City Hall to the George R. Brown Convention Center.

When: Sunday; walk-up registration 10 am - 11:30 am. Dribble begins at noon.

What: Mayor Sylvester Turner, who brags about his basketball skills, leads thousands of youngsters 18 and younger as they dribble their way to the Fan Fest entrance.

Admission: Free.

 

Final Four 4 Miler

Where: Hermann Square at Houston City Hall.

When: Saturday, registration begins at 7 am; race begins at 8. (You can register online until 11:59 pm on April 1.)

What: The 4-mile run winds through downtown Houston then along Allen Parkway to Taft street and back. Proceeds benefit the Lone Star Veterans Association.

Admission: General participants $25, college students, veterans, and 17 and under $20.

 

Powerade NCAA Youth Clinics

Where: Four Houston-area locations.

When: Saturday, 9 am - 12:30 pm.

What: Basketball clinics for boys and girls, grades 3-8, will offer fun conditioning skills and lifestyle tips from NCAA coaches and student-athletes.

Admission: Free, with online registration.

 

Championship Game

Where: NRG Stadium.

When: Monday, 8 p.m.

What: The two remaining teams fight it out for the 2016 NCAA men's basketball championship.

Admission: If you really have your heart set on Monday's final game and don't have a ticket, don't give up. Half of those attending Saturday's Final Four doubleheader are going to be disappointed when their team loses and many won't plan to stay for Monday's game. So expect the secondary market online to be flooded with available seats (unless Oklahoma wins, in which case demand for tickets will skyrocket, says the owner of one ticket agency). Check out websites like Primesport (the NCAA-approved resale site), Flash Seats, StubHub, SeatGeek, Vividseats and Ticket Experience — the closer to Monday's tip-off the better, as prices are bound to come down as the game approaches.

And, although officials warn not to buy from someone selling tickets on the street as they may be counterfeit, if you want to take a chance, look for dejected fans in the losing team's gear after Saturday's games and make an offer. You might end up in a prime seat, as many of those fans sit in their team's cheering section close to the court.