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|| News Item: Posted 2004-03-03

Remember The Alamo! It's Tournament time
By Porter Binks, Sports Illustrated

Photo by Porter Binks / Sports Illustrated

Photo by Porter Binks / Sports Illustrated

The Alamo.
Finding the right door to get into the Alamodome, site of this year's Final Four in San Antonio, could confuse the average fan. There are 961 to choose from. But if you're wearing a credential for this year's National Championship, you can use the southwest dock entrance. See how easy that was: from 961 to one.

So if your team survives a run through the bracket and you are lucky enough to cover the big event, you'll find a first-class arena and a wonderful city waiting to host you.

These FAQs should help give you useful information:

Q: What are the photo positions like?

A: If you covered a regional, the floor positions are about the same, although somewhat expanded. If you're allotted two floor positions, expect one to be better than the other. You'll be given an armband to work at floor level. Saturday, after your team plays, you'll probably move from the front row to the back, switching with a photographer from a paper associated with the teams in the next game. If your team loses and you want to cover Monday's Championship game, let the photo coordinator know, but a spot is not guaranteed.

Q: Do I need to mark my spot at the arena?

A: Thankfully, this isn't a free-for-all. The media coordinators mark the photo positions before the semi-final games, and then re-mark them for the championship on Monday. While they listen to individual requests, they are working with a finite amount of space and are locked into some positions for the wires and national media.

Q: How about upper photo positions?

A: As at most Final Four's, they are very limited. There are about eight and they are pretty much assigned now.

Q: Where are the photo work areas?

Photo by Porter Binks / Sports Illustrated

Photo by Porter Binks / Sports Illustrated

Photo work room.
A: Most of you will work in Meeting Room B, which is just off the court on the Northeast side of the arena. Sufficient power will be added and the phone lines you ordered will be installed here. AP and Sports Illustrated will work in a hallway just outside that room so as to not take up so much space in the main room. Don't forget: You are responsible for ordering your phone lines! There will be some TV monitors in the room with the live game feed. You can see an arena layout at

Q: How will my disks get to the workroom?

A: AP provides photo messengers for everyone during the games. Your disks will be placed in a spot for your editor (or you) to get them in the room. Reuters runs its own disks. No individual agencies are given messenger credentials.

Q: Can I bring a photo editor?

A: Yes, there are editor's credentials. You should apply for one just in case your team makes it.

Q: Where am I staying?

A: The main media hotel is the Marriott River Walk at 711 E. River Walk St., San Antonio, TX, 78205. Ph: 210.223.1000. It's 9.5 miles from the airport (SAT) and takes about 15 minutes, depending on traffic. The hotel is on the city's famous "River Walk," a several-block stretch of shops, restaurants and nightlife.

Q: What time are the games?

A: On Saturday, the games start at approximately 5pm central time and on Monday the championship begins about 8:20pm CT.

Q: Can I use my two-way radios?

Photo by Porter Binks / Sports Illustrated

Photo by Porter Binks / Sports Illustrated

Overall of the Alamo Dome.
A: Yes, but like all big events these days, there's a frequency coordinator. He is Robbie Llanos and can be reached at

Q Where do the teams stay?

A: East Rutherford regional winner, The Omni; Atlanta winner, the Adam's Mark; St. Louis winner, The Westin; and Phoenix winner, The Plaza-San Antonio

Q: What if I want to use remote cameras?

A: In your credential request or via an additional letter, you should have requested permission from the NCAA by March 1 to use remote cameras. If your remotes were approved, you should plan to be at the Alamodome by Wednesday 3/31 to install them. Media coordinators will do a walk-through Thursday to make sure cameras are properly placed and secured.

Q: Were can I place remotes?

A: Nothing can be on the backboard or standard, except the NCAA photos pool camera. You can generally place remotes under the press table and on the railings in around the court. When you place upper remotes, they have to be secured with a safety wire or chain--and should be secured twice! Redundancy is better. In the upper sports, be sure not to block a fan. If you aren't sure, sit in the seat and see what you see. If it interferes, move it to another location. Vomitories are good spots because you can hang below the fans view. Remember at regional sites, the media coordinator has to approve all spot ahead of time. It's not smart to be rushing about to hang something an hour be the game. The open practice day, or the day before, is the best day to do remote work and seek approvals.

Q: What about strobe pools for the regionals?

A: If you are a newspaper in one of the sixteen cities where games will be held, and you want to use your strobes, you will be in a pool situation, sharing with other media that make such requests. A copy of the tournament strobe policy can be found at You should be in touch with me at: if you'd like to use your strobes and run the pool. If you simply want to be included in the pool, email me and I'll put you on the list. All those arrangements need to be made by March 8. There can be a change for using lights at some placers where folks have to install a pool set. The price generally varies from $200 to $400.

Q What happens if I just show up on game day and ask to use strobes?

A: You'll probably be denied. The dates and sites of this tournament are published years in advance. An while we are all doing the work of two people in this economy, we can plan ahead a slight bit. If you think you teams can advance and you want to be in or provide the pool, ask by March 8.

Q: What do I do to get into the strobe pool?

A: If your team advances to the Final Four and you want to be in the strobe pool, expect to share time with other media. Contact me at by 3/29.

Q: Where do I pick up credentials?

Photo by Porter Binks / Sports Illustrated

Photo by Porter Binks / Sports Illustrated

Floor level view.
A: All credentials have to picked-up in person and, of course, require ID. You can do that at the Dome's southwest dock entry. You can pick them up at these times:
Thursday: 1pm to 5pm
Friday: 9am to 5pm
Saturday: 10am to tip-off (approx. 5pm)
Sunday: 11am to 2pm
Monday: 4pm to tip-off (approx. 8pm)

Of course, you should check on arrival to assure these times haven't changed. Credentials are required for Alamodome access from Friday 4/2 - Monday 4/5.

Q: What if I need to get into the Dome earlier?

A: Contact Cody Clem, Alamodome events coordinator, at 210.207.3636 or at

Q: Will there be any camera repair?

A: As always, Nikon will be located in a room just off the playing floor.

Q: What's the address of the dome?

A: 100 Montana Street
San Antonio, TX 78203
1-800-884-3663 or locally 210-207-3663

Q: Where's the closest Starbucks?


Q: Is there a shuttle service?

A: Yes. It runs from the airport to the Marriott River Walk beginning at 10am on Wednesday, 3/31. A schedule will be posted. And shuttles will be available from the Marriott to the Alamodome, but it is within walking distance, weather permitting.

Photo by Porter Binks / Sports Illustrated

Photo by Porter Binks / Sports Illustrated

The AP / SI work room.
Q: Where are the news conferences?

A: All are held at the Alamodome. Check the schedule.

Q: Where is next year's Final Four?

A: St. Louis, at the Edward Jones Dome, April 2 & 4. And future ones are at:
2006: RCA Dome, Indianapolis (April 1 & 3)
2007: Georgia Dome, Atlanta (March 31 & April 2)

Q: I had so much fun at the Final Four in San Antonio, when do we get to come back?

A: April 5 & 7, 2008.

Covering the Final Four is a great experience. NCAA media coordinator Bill Hancock and his colleagues try and make it easy, but they have rules to follow. To look at those, you can go to For strobe rules, go to

In the coming weeks, we'll be updating the SI Final Four website to give you more information. It is at

(Porter Binks is Sports Illustrated's picture editor in charge of the magazine's college basketball coverage.)

Related Links:
SI Photo

Related Email Addresses: 
Porter Binks:

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