What Goes into Planning the NCAA Women’s Final Four?
Friday, April 6, 2018
By Eric Archibald
The intensity of competition found on the court, in the stands and in office pools during the three weeks of March Madness is unparalleled. But, behind the scenes, there’s even more going on. Eric Archibald is the director of events for the Greater Columbus Sports Commission and also served on the Executive Committee for the NCAA Women’s Final Four Columbus Local Organizing Committee (CLOC). We asked him a few questions about his work on the NCAA Final Four Women’s Tournament, held this year in Columbus, Ohio.
ILEA: What were your roles and responsibilities for the NCAA Final Four Women’s Tournament?
Eric Archibald (EA): I served on the Executive Committee of the Columbus Local Organizing Committee, the planning group behind all aspects of the NCAA Women’s Final Four. I worked with a team to plan all of the ancillary hospitality and community events throughout the week, including the VIP hospitality events, the fundraisers dinner and the Women’s Final Four Bounce event, where 2,500 kids got to participate in a dribbling event through downtown Columbus. Another specific role was to oversee décor and branding in/around Nationwide Arena, John Glenn International Airport, hotels and citywide branding.
ILEA: What was one of the biggest challenges you faced while working on the Final Four Tournament, and how did you overcome it?
EA: As a first-time event in Columbus, our Local Organizing Committee was very excited to be a part of this, but it took years of planning to communicate out to our community how great this opportunity was. This event has a great impact on the communities every, and we had to work very hard to educate our local and hospitality community.
ILEA: What is unique about a sports event like this? What is it like “behind the scenes?”
EA: We literally transformed Columbus in less than 24 hours, from citywide branding to turning over the arena and convention center. The NCAA Women’s Final Four takes a collaboration of individuals from many different organizations locally, including the sports commission, Ohio State University and Nationwide Arena (host venue). The Columbus Local Organizing Committee was made up of about 50 event professionals all working on different pieces of the Women’s Final Four, from game management, transportation, VIP experience, volunteer management (2,300 shifts total) and all ancillary event production. The NCAA Women’s Final Four had us managing approximately four to six different events per day over the duration of a week.
ILEA: What advice would you give to live events professionals working an event like this?
EA: Like many events that travel from city to city each year, it is just as difficult for the event owner as it is for the host city or event supporters. Ask questions and communicate on what has and has not worked in past locations. This helps give us an opportunity to make it the best event ever. We also always visit the event in prior years and learn from previous hosts directly. The event industry is very open to pushing everyone to make these great event better each year.
Eric Archibald is the director of events for the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, and served on the Executive Committee for the NCAA Women’s Final Four Columbus Local Organizing Committee (CLOC). Eric is an alum at The Ohio State University and possesses both a Master of Arts in sports management and a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in sports marketing from The Max M. Fisher College of Business.