After a Decade of Planning, Final Four Weekend Has Arrived!

The San Antonio International Airport is always busy on Fridays, but it's been a long time since they have seen crowds like this, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Thanks to the Final Four, airlines have added an additional six thousand seats this week, helping fans from Michigan, Chicago, Pennsylvania and Kansas get to San Antonio. That does not include all of the chartered fan flights, and nearly 500 private flights, which are carrying company executives to the games.

 Airport Director Russ Handy says there's pressure to put on a good image for those business leaders.

"We don’t want to wait for growth to happen and then try to catch up," he says.  "We want to be the reason why somebody wants to bring a business to San Antonio."

The airport's limits have been a central debate at City Hall.  Mayor Ron Nirenberg has set up a special task force to look at what can be done to improve the transit hub, whether that's expansion or building a second airport.

Handy says branding the city's airport is a big part of appealing to corporate executives, who's first contact with the city will be when they step off the jet way.  That's why they're bringing in a group of singers, dancers and actors called “from those who follow the echoes."

 Art work will be updated and a small army of volunteers will be on hand to give that personal touch.

"It's a try out, not just for the next Final Four, but for any sort of attraction," he explains.

But this is not San Antonio's first rodeo.  Ten years ago the city hosted the college basketball championship.  In that time, there have been other basketball playoffs, as well as NBA championships and high profile sporting events downtown.

Handy says they recently met with airport officials in Phoenix, which hosted the last Final Four.But as events like this grow bigger, it will be a larger test of the city's hospitality industry.

Chef Johnny Hernandez, who runs several restaurants in San Antonio including La Gloria at the Pearl, says the service industry has been ramping up in expectation of close to 100,000 fans, media and production crews in town.

"We're just really upping our game," he says.  "They will flood our restaurants for sure, and we'll be ready."

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