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|| News Item: Posted 2000-12-20

Sports Shooter News & Notes
2002 NCAA Final Four Site

By Porter Binks, Sports Illustrated

For many newspapers, college basketball has kicked off and while no one is thinking as far ahead as I am, you might be interested to know we made one of two scouting trips in November to see the 2002 Final Four site, the Georgia Dome. As always, the Dome was set-up with a game (Georgia Tech v. Calif. All Stars --- so that's what happened to Ed Cota, Kris Weems and Drew Barry!).

Here's a brief description:

While the larger set of temporary stands was not built, the smaller ones were and the building was configured as it will be for the Final Four. Along on the trip were myself, Bob Rosato and Chris Smith of SI, Jim Marchiony and Bill Hancock of the NCAA and representatives of the Dome. AP's Brian Horton was unable to attend because we visited on election night.

Basically, we walked through The Dome to look at workspace, with a special eye toward photo workspace, which again is separated from the nearby writer's space. The Georgia Dome is a little smaller than some others and there is no convention center space attached like the RCA Dome.

So the space for us is limited, but looks workable. We measured off an area and Marchiony and Hancock will work up a drawing to include that area in the final plans. Of course, things change constantly with these set-ups, which is why we go in early to look for space before it's gobbled up.

The photo area will be near the entrance to the hospitality/writing press area, convenient to the playing floor. We looked at rooms for Nikon's repair/loan service and Rosato took the electrician to the catwalk to talk about the increased power needs for the strobes.

We identified space near the break in the two set of temporary stands where the up photo positions might go. Those spots always have to be coordinated with the local fire marshal, but we believe we found some near the centerline, looking into the benches.

We'll be making a similar trip to the Super Dome, site of the 2003 Final Four in New Orleans on Dec. 12. And Phil Jache will be putting the information for the Minneapolis Final Four up on the SI web site, with photos of the court and work areas, and a diagram of the court. Minneapolis is adding even more temporary stands than first planned, which actually doesn't affect our photo area in 2001.

Speaking of 2001, remember that if you are in a city hosting a NCAA first/second round or a regional final, you need to coordinate your strobes. Please don't wait until March to discover your paper can't use it's strobes without sharing, even though you've done it all year.

So if you're the photo director/sports photo editor in Greensboro, Memphis, Dayton, Kansas City, San Diego, Boise, Philly, San Antonio, Minneapolis/St. Paul, or cover the Pond in Anaheim, please get in touch with me via email ( and we'll talk. I left out Long Island, New Orleans and Atlanta because I don't think they are permanently strobed. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Any suggestions about workspace, positions or strobes at Regionals or Final Fours is always appreciated.

(Porter Binks is a picture editor at Sports Illustrated.)

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