From tickets to seats, from the trophy to the playing surface itself, UPS plays a critical role.
When the teams tip off at the NCAA® Final Four® on Saturday, it will be the culmination of a long journey. Nearly 350 Division I college basketball teams officially started practicing last October, all with the dream of reaching Atlanta for college basketball’s penultimate weekend.
The NCAA championship court, seats for the Georgia Dome tournament venue, even the equipment for fan rallies in Atlanta – it's all being handled by UPS.
At UPS, the Final Four journey has been almost that long. As the NCAA’s official logistics provider, UPS is at the center of a complex puzzle of moving parts. The championship court, temporary seating configurations for the Georgia Dome venue, even the equipment for the Bracket Town FanFest in the Georgia World Congress Center and the Big Dance concert series in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta – it’s all being delivered by UPS.
"This year, as part of our 'We Deliver the Men’s Final Four' commitment, we’ve taken a more hands-on approach, similar to what we did for London 2012. It's a lot of pieces coming from a lot of places and, with this being such a time-sensitive operation, it has to be heavily coordinated," says Ben Gillespie, Sponsorships & Events supervisor at UPS. "We will be using all the technology tools at our disposal."
Zero emissions tournament
One such tool tracks carbon emissions. All of UPS's tournament-related transport will be tracked for carbon emissions, with that amount being offset – the first time for any NCAA event. A similar initiative was successfully managed at the 2012 Olympic Games.
And like the Olympics, UPS's scale of involvement will ensure another smooth-running tournament. Here are some of those unique deliveries:
The court: For the second year running, UPS will transport the hallowed hardwood floor, manufactured by Michigan-based Connor Sport Court and weighing 38,000 pounds. Entrusted with the precious cargo is UPS Freight Forwarding driver Allen Tillman, a 25-year UPS veteran with an impeccable safety record. Tillman will be taking the floor on its final leg from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Atlanta.
Tickets: UPS has partnered with the NCAA and its Arkansas-based ticket vendor WWL to deliver approximately 30,000 Final Four tickets to fans across the globe.
Seating: The Georgia Dome must be configured to maximize every inch of available seats for fans, and that’s the job of Birmingham, Ala.-based Colonnade Group. UPS’s role: coordinate with Colonnade and move seating between its Birmingham warehouse and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of this year’s South Regional (round of 16), and then back to Atlanta in time for the Final Four. “It’s going to take over 100 truckloads to convert the arenas in Arlington and Atlanta, and we expect there to be somewhere close to 25,000 parts,” Gillespie says. “There’s scaffolding and seats that need to be put in place, dismantled, transported, unloaded, reassembled, dismantled and then transported back to Birmingham. Eight trucks will be on hand in Dallas as soon as the final game is over there.”
During Final Four weekend, it's often what happens off the court that keeps fans coming back. This year, Turner Events will be hosting a number of gatherings, such as Bracket Town and the Big Dance, which will feature concerts and interactive activities. UPS will coordinate the logistics of it all, which will involve:
- Six truckloads moving from Houston, where the equipment is stored, to Atlanta.
- More than 1,600 miles travel per truck, with an estimated 9,612 miles total.
- Cargo weight per truck at 33,000 pounds that totals 198,000 pounds.
"Events like these open up a number of opportunities for in-the-weeds businesses to capitalize," Gillespie says. "By using our network to handle the logistical side of everything, it means we're taking the load off of others, which really levels the playing field."
And after the national champion is crowned on Monday night, all that temporary seating, the court and equipment must be dismantled and trucked back. Some of those trucks will be heading straight to the Frozen Four®, the NCAA hockey championships in Pittsburgh on April 11 and 13.
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