ATLANTA - It really is something.
“This is an unbelievable experience,” Michigan student Matt Charboneau said as walked to his seat on the floor of the Georgia Dome.
Standing on the ground floor, with 75,000 people looking down at you, can take your breath away.
“I’ve never seen a court in the middle of a football field before,” said Syracuse fan Mark Lowery.
This Final Four is the first time a basketball court has put been right smack in the middle of the Dome for a college basketball game.
But to make sure everyone can at least get a decent look at the game, the NCAA has literally put the floor on college basketball’s biggest stage.
“(The floor) is raised 24 inches up,” Georgia Dome spokesman Jason Kirksey said. “They players that aren’t in the game sit floor-side, not on the court.”
But to help the fans out a little more, one of the world greatest TVs is above.
“The NCAA put in an octagon video board that’s hanging in the middle. It goes from free throw line to free throw line,” said Kirksey. “It’s got three different levels with scores and stats and clock and everything you want to see up there.”
The last time the Final Four was in Atlanta, the Dome was configured to seat about 53,000.
Saturday’s attendance was 75,350. That’s the largest crowd ever to see a basketball game in Atlanta and the third largest crowd to ever see a game of any kind at the Dome. Atlanta just missed breaking the attendance record for the Final Four which is 75,421 set in 2011 at Reliant Stadium in Houston
“It’s great to be a part of history,” says Tim Billhower from Syracuse.”
The extra seating confinguration allows more people into the Final Four, but could also generate an extra $4 million in ticket revenue for the NCAA, according to the AJC.
But can those folks at the top of the 27-story building, actually see a basketball game?
“My friend actually just got a nosebleed,” one Michigan student said. “So we are in the nosebleed section.”
Ok. So it’s pretty high up there. Especially for 7-year-old McKenna Townsend from Louisville.
“(The seats) are kind of high,” she said. “I can barely see.”
Is this the highest you’ve been in your entire life?
“Ummm, I’d say so,” said McKenna.
But the tales from the upper deck are those of people that are thrilled to be a part of the Final Four.
“You don’t have to turn your head much,” said an optimistic Devan Stoval of Duluth, who was just thrilled to finally see his team come south. “First time I’ve gotten to see my favorite team Michigan play in real-life. So it’s great.”
Plus, just like everything else, the scenic view does get better the higher up you go.
“I like that you can see over everything,” said Michelle Jones.
And there is another perk to sitting with a concrete wall behind you.
“I don’t have anyone yelling in my ear behind me,” said Sally Looker who came down from Montana as part of a birthday present for her brother who lives in Atlanta.
Yes the tickets might be a $100 to hang from the rafters. And you can’t really see the numbers on the players’ backs. But it is the Final Four, so few really care.
“Great view,” said Lowery. “Where else would you rather be than right here?”