This has been another banner year for college basketball in the Bayou City. The University of Houston men’s team reached the Elite Eight before a tough loss to Villanova. Meanwhile, Texas Southern University netted another tourney appearance.
Things get even hotter next year, as Houston will host the NCAA Men’s Final Four showdowns. Games run on April 1 and 3, 2023 at NRG Stadium, with UH, TSU, Houston Baptist University, and Rice University making history as the first quartet of institutions to host the Final Four. This is Houston’s fourth turn city hosting the event, having previously crowned national champions in 1971, 2011, and 2016.
To celebrate the win for the city, fans are invited to Discovery Green Park on Friday, April 15, from noon to 4 pm to catch the Fan Jam Truck, an interactive pop-up truck that’s making its way from New Orleans (home of the recent championship) to Houston.
At the free event, visitors can snap pictures with the NCAA Men’s Final Four trophy, and enjoy Pop-A-Shots, giveaways, mascot appearances, a reading nook, and more, per a press release. Mayor Sylvester Turner will welcome the crowd while UH and TSU bands trumpet tunes.
The event is hosted by the Houston Local Organizing Committee (HLOC), the group responsible for bringing the Final Four to Houston in 2023.
“Houston is an amazing sports town,” Holly Kesterson, HLOC president, tells CultureMap, “and there’s nothing better than seeing our hometown teams having success on a national stage. University of Houston has an exceptional history in men’s basketball dating back to the 1980s with Phi Slama Jama, so it’s great to see that type of excitement and energy around college basketball coverage once again.
“Texas Southern University also had an impressive run, making it all the way to the early stages of March Madness this year. We are excited to follow all of our host institutions next year including Rice University and Houston Baptist University.”
While the celebration is free, attendees are encouraged to bring books for elementary school students, which will be used in the upcoming Read to the Final Four literacy program for area third-grade students.
College hoops devotees are encouraged to show up and snap those pics with the trophy — perhaps it could be foreshadowing for a local team’s run?
“Not to get too ahead of ourselves,” says Kesterson, “but the potential of having a hometown team in the running for the Men’s Final Four in 2023 adds to the excitement in our community.”
Catch the Fan Jam Truck at Discovery Green Park, 1500 McKinney St. from noon to 4 pm. Free.