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|| News Item: Posted 1999-03-07

NCAA Tournament Info
By Robert Hanashiro

Here is a rundown of the NCAA regional finals sites and also the host cities of the Men's and Women's Final Four.

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SOUTH REGION/KNOXVILLE, TN (from Porter Binks, Sports Illustrated)
Arena: Thompson-Boling Arena (on campus of U of Tennessee)
Built: 1987 Capacity: 24,535
Floor to ceiling distance: 120 Ft.
Arena Levels: 3
Dates: March 18 and 20

Distance from Airport: 16 miles (20-25 minutes)
Media Coordinator for Regional Final: Bud Ford, Assistant Athletic Director
@ UT 423: 974-1214. Fax 423/974-1269. Assistant Media Coordinator: David Grimm. 423/974-1214 Facility Manager (for strobe installation) Tim Reese. 423/974-3673
Media Hotel: Knoxville Hilton, 501 Church Ave., Knoxville, TN 37902. Ph: 423/ 523-2300 Fax: 423/525-6532.

The Downtown Hilton offers courtesy van service from McGhee-Tyson Airport that operates on the half-hour. Contact the Hilton with your arrival time to insure timely pickup. Media rate is $92. Identify yourself as "NCAA Media" when making reservations. There will also be a media shuttle from the Hilton to the arena Wed-Sat.

The airport is 16 miles from Knoxville. Allow sufficient time in getting back to return the car and check luggage because of morning traffic. From McGhee Tyson Airport to Knoxville: take Highway 129 north to I-40 EAST. Exit at James White Parkway (also known as the downtown loop) Take second exit right (Cumberland Ave.), travel to third red light and turn right onto Walnut Avenue and the Hilton will be one block on your left.

There will be a media workroom. If your working digital and want to avoid a space hassle, grab space in this workroom and order a phone. Call GTE 888/838- 8080.

Patrick Murphy-Racey says available light in the arena is 500 @ 1.8 at 800 ASA and he swears it looks good!

Restaurants (these two are in the "Old City" part of downtown): PATRICK SULLIVANS SALOON: 100 N. Central St. (11a to 10 M-T, 11a, midnight F- Sat)
Traditional Irish meals; pasta; and 12 oz Tennessee bourbon NY Strip steak marinated in Jack Daniel's.
SULLLIVAN"S Diner: 137 South Central St (no relation to above) (11a to 3:30pm) 50's atmosphere with diner fare (meatloaf, etc). Other eateries: DARRYL's Kingston Pike; 6604 Kingston Pike (10 minutes from arena) good food and a good bar. REGIS, 318 N. Gay St. (5 minutes from arena). A UT tradition before football games and other times. Lunch and dinner.

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WEST REGION/PHOENIX, AZ (from Paul Gero, Arizona Republic)
Dates: March 18 and 20
Host: Arizona State University.

America West Arena is located in the center of Phoenix (3rd Street and Jefferson), near Bank One Ballpark. It's approximately 5 miles to Sky Harbor International Airport and takes about 15 minutes to get to the arena via cab.

The available light in the arena is barely 1/500th at f2.8 at asa 1600. Typically if I shoot available I usually shoot 1/500th at f2.2 or f2.5 in the forecourt and 1/400 @ f2.8 with a long lens down court.

The Arizona Republic, Mesa Tribune, and the Suns have strobes in the catwalks (I believe SI still has a set in the arena, though not certain).

Mark Brand - ASU Assistant Athletic Director: 602.965-6592 is the contact person for this regional.

Phoenix AP is located about five blocks north of the arena. Ap/Portland's Jack Smith will be in charge of this region for the Associated Press. The bureau number is 602.258.8934.

Entrance for media into America West Arena is at the far northeastern door closest to the corner of 3rd Street and Jefferson. The Hyatt hotel is north of the stadium just over two blocks north at 122 N. 2nd Street.

Several eateries are around the arena/ballpark. Most are your usual sports bar fare such as Majerle's at 24 N.2nd Street (253.9004). There is a TGIF inside the B.O.B. (Bank One Ballpark) and also a Lienenkugels microbrewery/restaurant adjacent to the baseball park. Several watering holes are located on the street directly south of America West Arena, one
called Cooperstown (253.7337) (Alice Cooper of Wayne's World fame is one of the owners). There is a new restaurant in the Hyatt called The Networks bar (462.1400) that has been getting good reviews, too.

The Arizona Center at the corner of 3rd Street and Van Buren has some late-night places (for Phoenix) like Hooters, Mi Amigo's restaurant and an Unos Pizza. There's also a Fat Tuesday's for some killer slurpee drinks. Even closer to the arena, there is also a good local Mexican place called the Matador located at 125 E. Adams (254.7563) that is a good late night spot.

Some other notable things to check out while in Phoenix: Best former news photographer turned blue harmonica player: John Samora of Big Nick and the Gila Monsters. Check out their site at: (John can swing a pretty mean Mamiya 7 too!).

Best Blues Night spot: The Rhythm Room, 1019 E. Indian School, 265.4842.

Favorite family Mexican restaurant (a bit of a drive from downtown but I think it's worth it...get there early, it's always packed): Rosa's Mexican Grill, 328 E. University Drive, Mesa (just west of Country Club & University). 964.5451.

Best barbecue close (Bert knows this one): Honey Bears' BBQ, 5012 E. Van Buren, 273.9148.

Best barbecue further out: Joe's Real BBQ, 301 N. Gilbert Rd. (north of Elliot on Gilbert), Gilbert, AZ (about 35 minutes from downtown), 503.3805.

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Dates: March 19 and 20.
Host: Seton Hall University

The continental Airlines Arena is at the New Jersey Turnpike at Rt. 3, 6 miles from NYC via the Lincoln Tunnel.

Meadowlands Hilton is near, but you cannot have to cross a highway. Other hotels are nearby (Secaucus), but the area is devoid of life. Go to NYC! Parking is plentiful but arrive early...Friday traffic through tunnel from NYC to arena can be horrid after 4:30pm. Sunday is OK.

Enter via front entrance on South side of building (main ticket lobby), then down 1 level to floor level. Go right to the press area, where there will be workspace available.

The floor is fairly large, and arena is well lit at 500 2.8 at 800 asa. Last I checked! Daylight balance, digital friendly (as opposed to Madison Square Garden!).

Remember, no backboard remotes at the NCAA tourney.

Airport: Newark is best if going direct to Arena, about 12 miles. LaGuardia is best for NYC, then Kennedy and Newark (about the same traffic hassles). As for restaurants, this is NYC...good luck!

MIDWEST REGIONAL/ST. LOUIS, MO (from Robert Seale, The Sporting News)
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Dates: March 19 and 21.
Host: Missouri Valley Conference

The TWA Dome normally does not host basketball games - I'm not sure how they are going to configure it for the tourney, but during football games it is fairly bright; I want to say 500/2.8 at 800iso. The other thing about it is that of all the domes I've been in, the TWA dome has one of the lowest rooflines I've seen, so it isn't nearly as expansive as the RCA Dome or Superdome. In football, this results in the lights coming in more from
the side than from directly above - it makes for fairly contrasty "dome-light", including nice rim-light on helmets, etc. This could help for basketball too, maybe it won't be too flat. The other benefit is, it may be one of the few domes where an overhead remote makes sense.

The Missouri Valley Conference's office number is: 314/436-1551.

The coolest hotel in town is the Hyatt Regency at Union Station. It was built into a 100-year-old train station, with a mall attached. The mall contains Dierdorf and Hart's, (Dan Dierdorf's Steak place - I think you need reservations and a sportcoat to go to this one). There is also a decent Marriott downtown, directly across from Busch Stadium.

There is an old, brick-paved street area just East of the TWA Dome, next to the river called Laclede's Landing. This area has all kinds of restaurants and bars, and it is probably open late after all the games are over. There is a decent, more casual kind of steak place called Jack's Steaks at Laclede's Landing.

If the schedule allows, try to visit one of the Italian restaurants in "the Hill" area. "The Hill" is probably a ten-minute drive south of downtown, and has some magnificent mom and pop Italian eateries. Charlie Gitto's comes to mind, and I think they have a location downtown as well. If you want to go up into the top of the St. Louis arch, get there when it opens at 9am. The little elevators only take up a small number of people each time, and by noon, all the trips to the top are booked for that day.

The airport is about a 25-minute drive from downtown. All the rental car places have moved to satellite locations recently, so be prepared to take a rental car bus with all your isn't across the street in the garage like it used to be. Schiller's is the big camera store in town, and is located about a 15 minute drive from downtown on Manchester Rd.

* * *

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Arena: Tropicana Field
March 27 and 29 (tentative tip-off times are 5:42 p.m. and 9:22 p.m. ET)
Match ups: East vs. Midwest and South vs. West
Host: University of South Florida

Media Hotel: Marriott Westshore 1001 N Westshore Blvd
Tampa, Florida 33607-4796; 813-287-2555; 800-228-9290
Fax 813-289-5464

Bob Deutsch of USA TODAY, rather than write up a full report on this venue, suggests going to a few web sites to gather working information if you are going to the 1999 NCAA Men's Final Four.

Bob recommends going to the St. Pete Times and Tampa Tribune Final Four web sites for general information on the Tampa-St. Pete area, transportation and directions, hotels and entertainment listings:;

For information on working, including contact names and phone numbers and images of the Tropicana Field, he says to go to Sports Illustrated photo's Final Four web site:

For a restaurant recommendation there are just three words: Bern's Steak House. Bern's is one of the top steakhouses in the USA. 1208 S. Howard Ave. Tampa 813-251-2421, reservation definitely needed.


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Arena: San Jose Arena (home of the San Jose Sharks)
626 W. Santa Clara St. (at the Guadalupe Parkway)

Driving directions: From the north: take 101 south to the Guadalupe Parkway (Route 87) and exit right onto Park Avenue about three blocks to Autumn Street. Go right on Autumn for two blocks, and the Arena is on the left. From the south: take Route 87 north to San Jose and exit at Santa Clara Street. The SJ Arena is about a 15-20 minute drive from the San Jose Airport depending on traffic and time of day.

The main media hotel is the Fairmont Hotel, 170 South Market St., in downtown San Jose, telephone: (408)998-1900. The Arena is less than a couple of miles from the Fairmont, directions: on S. Market St. 0.2 mi., turn right onto Park Ave.;.0.3 mi. turn right onto S Almaden Blvd.; 0.3 mi. turn left onto W. Santa Clara St., 0.4 mi. to San Jose Arena.

The media entrance is down a flight of stairs from the parking lot, so if you have a lot of gear on a cart, it will be a pain-in-the-ass. Unless they change the usual set up they have for Stanford games played at this site, you'll have to take your gear off the cart and haul it down the stairs. Once in the building, you can take an elevator to the floor level. The AP and media work areas are pretty close to the court and if your position is on that end, you'll be just two minutes from the transmit rooms. Paul Sakuma is the AP staffer who works the South Bay area. His email address is:

The light in the arena for Stanford women's games is not great, but not bad. I've shot digital in there at 1/400 @ 2.8, asa1000. Hopefully they'll pump it up for a national event like the Women's Final Four.

The Bay Area has some of the country's top restaurants, but I'll list a couple for convenience sake:

Original Joe's Restaurant
Italian food and steaks and chops. Don't let the tux-clad wait staff fool you, this is a pretty casual place with good food and fairly inexpensive prices. The advantage is that it's close to the media hotel and serves until 1:30am (a great spot for that after-game meal). 301 S 1st St. San Jose; (408) 292-7030; Hours: daily 11am-1:30am.

Grill On The Alley
If you want a good steak, you won't have to go further than the lobby of the Fairmont. The menu has everything from steak tartar to several good seafood and chicken dishes. Fairly pricey (it is after all in the hotel!), but the food is first rate.

The Bay Area is a haven for great Asian cuisine, but places I like for a change of pace are the mom & pop-type places. Kubota is a popular noodle and sushi hangout that should fit the bill if you don't want the usual steak-chicken road-trip fare. In San Jose's Japantown area, 593 N Fifth St San Jose; hours: M-F 11:30am-2pm; 5:30-10pm; Sat.5:30-10pm; Sun. 5:30-9pm.

THE professional camera store to go to if you need anything during your visit to the Bay Area is Keeble and Shuchat in Palo Alto, about 30 minutes north of San Jose. They have two stores across from each other, one the "pro shop" with medium format and large format cameras, lighting gear and the best collection of Lighware cases I've seen and the other store has 35mm equipment, books and misc. items. They're located at 290 California Ave. in Palo Alto. Call the store for directions from San Jose if you want to make a stop there, 650. 327-8996.

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