Duquesne's 'army' is taking care of NCAA Tournament logistics
Police escorts for the buses• Check.
Hotel ballrooms large enough for an informal practice, just in case a coach gets an urge• Check.
A ladder — emblazoned with the appropriate sponsor's logo — to help the victors cut down the nets• Check.
Those are just three of the necessities on Duquesne associate athletic director Phil Racicot's list, as he prepares for the sold-out second and third rounds of NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament from March 15-17 at Consol Energy Center.
For the third time in the past 16 years, Duquesne University will host to one of the crowning events on the U.S. sports calendar. And it's the responsibility of Racicot, his employees and volunteers to make sure everything goes according to plan.
"We have to have an army of people to manage this," he said while leafing the NCAA's 363-page tournament manual, which is always within reach.
Consol is the venue for the tournament for the first time after the first two were staged at Mellon Arena in 1997 and 2002. Pitt hosted women's subregionals at Petersen Events Center in 2007 and '10.
Planning began four years ago when officials at Duquesne, Visit Pittsburgh and Consol decided to submit a bid to the NCAA. In the spring of 2009, the bid was finalized; a few months later, it was accepted.
Duquesne receives 10 percent of ticket sales and plenty of national exposure, Racicot said.
"It certainly allows us (an) opportunity to (enable) fans to see NCAA basketball at its highest level," he said.
But why Pittsburgh?
Consol, less than two years old and offering "all the bells and whistles," according to Racicot, was the chief attraction for the NCAA. David Worlock, associate director for media services, said Pittsburgh also met the NCAA criteria for plentiful hotel rooms, convenient transportation and proximity to the airport.
Teams will be housed in six Downtown hotels, which have reserved between 150-175 rooms each for players, coaches and other officials.
With the tournament coinciding with St. Patrick's Day, most restaurants and hotels in the Downtown area are preparing for increased business.
"It will be like back-to-back Steelers games," said Tim Zugger, general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton and president of the Greater Pittsburgh Hotel Association.
Zugger expects the DoubleTree, located one block from Consol, to sell out its 333 rooms for four days, and possibly a fifth if the two teams scheduled to stay there decide to arrive Tuesday. He said restaurants city-wide can expect a 50 percent increase in sales.
"It's very good for business for the DoubleTree and the City of Pittsburgh," he said.
Selling tickets to the game was no problem, thanks to Pittsburgh's reputation as a big-event town, Racicot said. Added Worlock: "We know there is an appetite for basketball, especially on the collegiate level."
The NCAA sold all seats through its website, triggering the process in April immediately after the 2011 Final Four. That initial sale was limited to Duquesne and Penguins employees and season-ticket holders, and Consol business partners, Racicot said.
"We sold the most number of tickets of all the (eight) NCAA venues across the country," he said, noting Pittsburgh edged Omaha, Neb., for that distinction by selling 13,000 tickets. Another 2,000 were sold in October and were gone in three hours, Racicot said.
Consol seats 18,450 for basketball, and sellout crowds are expected both days. Duquesne has issued credentials to 88 media members — not counting Turner and CBS — and expects many more applications before the Thursday deadline.
Tickets were sold as $234 and $210 packages that entitle holders to attend four games March 15 and two more March 17 (tip-off times to be determined by television). There is no walk-up sale, but returns may become available on the website on game day if schools can't sell their allotments.
"We get calls every day," said Racicot, noting scalpers may ask for twice the face value. "It all depends on what teams are here and how badly people want to see those teams."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Pouncey investigated in alleged assault
- McCutchen homers twice in Pirates’ extra-inning win
- Plum, Burrell soccer players get kicks across pond
- Senate leader Reid steers push to turn Nevada into renewable energy mecca
- Despite challenges, ride-sharing operations flourish
- LaBar: Kurt Angle preparing for WWE return
- Pirates’ McCutchen might be National League’s most cost-effective star
- Alle-Kiski collegiate baseball players find many summer league options
- Freeport Area School District envisions new middle school as ‘asset to community’
- Pirates notebook: Similarity found in Alvarez throwing errors
- As suicides spike, new Pa. law to start prevention efforts in 6th grade