Women’s Final Four Could be Dream Come True

Thousands of 15-, 16- and 17-year-old athletic girls in Middle Tennessee will be devoting countless hours to sharpening their basketball skills over the next few years.

Out of the millions of shots, dribbles and rebounds, a few will emerge with skills that will allow them to play college basketball at the highest levels.  A few of them may even have the dream of playing in the ultimate college basketball experience, the NCAA Women’s Final Four…..and, in 2014 that event could be right here in Nashville.

I say could be, because one last element of the qualifying hurdle for Nashville is to have a new, fully functioning Music City Center convention center in operation.  Not a lot of folks realize that commitment was essential to the Ohio Valley Conference and Nashville Sports Council’s bid to host the event here.

Two things had to occur before Nashville could even be considered to be a viable candidate city to compete for this major national event:

–The NCAA lowered the arena capacity requirement to less than 20,000 seats, thus allowing the Sommet Center to be eligible, an

–The Final Four “experience” also involves a 3,000-person national convention that requires a center large enough to handle that crucial part of the business….a new, Music City Center will do that.

The bid committee co-chaired by Vice Mayor Dianne Neighbors and prominent Nashville attorney Margaret Behm, included dozens of Middle Tennessee business and civic leaders.  I was fortunate to participate when we hosted the NCAA bid committee’s site visit to Nashville.  We witnessed a show that “blew their socks off,” according to actual reports from committee members.

From the stunningly creative visual presentation by Evette White’s team (for which they won a national award), to the compellingly positive performance by Vince Gill and Amy Grant to the group at the Country Music Hall of Fame, followed by a lower-Broad pub crawl and then breakfast on the stage of the Ryman Theater, their “socks” never had a chance not to be wild about Nashville.

“I’ve never seen anything like the cooperation, enthusiasm and camaraderie that was evidenced by this planning committee,” said Dave Cooley, incoming president of the Nashville Sports Council, “It was truly remarkable.”

The NCAA obviously concurred, securing their agreement with the promise of a Women’s Final Four.  Now, we need to join Mayor Karl Dean in making sure we keep our promises.   Not only promises to the NCAA, but the promise of an opportunity for our teen-aged hoop hopefuls.

Metro Council took a major step forward Tuesday night by passing, on second reading Mayor Dean’s request to purchase land for MCC.  A third reading comes June 2, and, a few months later, the vote on the construction financing.

Once the convention center opens, Nashville will host many conventions larger and with far more than the $20 million economic impact the women’s event is projected to generate.  But, all will pale by comparison if a Tennessee-based team or, more importantly, a Tennessee girl is a part of this unique experience.

Keep dribbling and shooting, girls, because I believe that Nashville will not let you down.


Bo Roberts is a Nashville marketing consultant and managing partner of Roberts Strategies.

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About Bo Roberts

Mr. Roberts was founder of an international marketing consulting firm, which, together with Tom Jackson & Associates, served such clients as Miss Universe, Inc.; Rockwell International; Kansas City, MO. Mayor’s Office; Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey & Associates; and the Michael Jackson Victory! Tour; the 1985 World’s Fair in Tsukuba, Japan and the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver, B.C. Canada...

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