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Final Four tournament in Glendale nearly tops attendance records

North Carolina players celebrate after the finals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Gonzaga, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. North Carolina won 71-65. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

PHOENIX — More than 150,000 people attended the Final Four semifinal and championship games in Glendale, making the event the second most-attended in the series’ history.

The number of fans who attended the national semifinals was 77,612, in addition to the 76,168 fans who attended the championship game at University of Phoenix stadium, bringing a total of 153,780 fans to the Valley tournament.

The award for highest-attended Final Four goes to Texas in 2014, which brought in a record-breaking 158,682 fans, according to the NCAA. That year, the Connecticut Huskies took it all.

However, nearly the same number of fans — 135,000 — attended the March Madness Music Festival, which was a series of free concerts in downtown Phoenix that featured artists such as Keith Urban, Aerosmith and The Chainsmokers. The three-day festival was so widely anticipated that each concert quickly reached capacity.

In addition, 107,268 fans attended the Tip-Off Tailgate, and 50,803 fans went to the Final Four Fan Fest in downtown Phoenix.

Dawn Rogers with the Phoenix Final Four Local Organizing Committee said Arizona did a “tremendous” job as a host.

“I think we over-delivered on the things that we said we’d do in our bid,” Rogers said. “What we consistently heard was that the Tip-Off Tailgate was one of the highest-attended ever, for this event.”

And fans of the NCAA tournament agreed, calling the event-filled weekend a slam dunk.

“I love Phoenix, the palm trees and the desert,” Erin Rotondo, a North Carolina fan from Indianapolis, said.

In total, downtown Phoenix welcomed an estimated 400,000 visitors during the Final Four weekend, which also featured events such as a Pride Festival and the Arizona Diamondbacks’ season-opener.

Around the country, 22,998,000 viewers tuned in to watch the North Carolina Tar Heels take home a victory over Gonzaga University.

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