Houston, Arlington among cities awarded upcoming Final Fours

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jerry Jones envisions thousands of college students and fans filling the three-acre plazas at either end of the new Dallas Cowboys stadium, having a good time and creating home-court environments for their respective teams.

"This is going to be the largest-attended basketball game in the history of this sport," the Cowboys owner said Wednesday after the stadium was awarded the 2014 NCAA men's basketball Final Four. "That's neat."

About 93,000 people will be able to attend Final Four games at the stadium.

While the stadium won't open until late next summer for the Cowboys' 2009 season, the Final Four is another major event already scheduled for the $1 billion-plus facility. The NBA All-Star Game will be played there in 2010, as will the 2011 Super Bowl and the Big 12 football championship games in 2009 and 2010. The stadium will become the Cotton Bowl's new home in 2010.

"Those high substantive events begat other events, and that's what's happening," Jones said. "You're passing a lot of scrutiny, passing a lot of tests and putting a very credible stamp on your stadium before it opens."

The NCAA on Wednesday also awarded the 2016 men's Final Four to Houston, games that will be played at Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans.

The 2012 Final Four will be played at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, with finals also awarded to Atlanta's Georgia Dome in 2013 and the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in 2015.

They were chosen from 10 bids submitted in June. Also competing to host the tournaments were Detroit, Minneapolis, Phoenix and St. Louis.

Jones joined officials from the Big 12 Conference, the city of Arlington and other local governments on one of the plazas amid the noisy ongoing construction Wednesday.

"It's too much for me to ask these people to stop," Jones said, with a smile. "This is as an exciting day as we've had as an organization."

When the NBA All-Star Game is played, more than 100,000 seats could be available because of the possible configurations of the stadium. The Dallas Mavericks and Cowboys are collaborating to host that showcase event next season.

Jones considers the two major basketball events "a complement to the sports interests" in the north Texas area.

The court for the NBA All-Star Game and the NCAA Final Four will be set up on the Cowboys' famed star logo right in the middle of the field, not at one end like the basketball setup has been in other large venues.

"This is an outstanding opportunity to showcase men's basketball throughout the region," said Dan Beebe, commissioner of the Big 12. "Our goal will be to provide the teams and the fans with the experience of a lifetime."