Houston will host the NCAA’s Final Four beginning March 31, marking the fourth time the Bayou City has played host to the contest. The last time Houston hosted was in 2016.

For the 2016 Final Four, which saw 74,340 attendees as Villanova beat North Carolina, Houston got a boost of about $250 million in revenue, per the city of Houston.

Preparing the city

At a March 27 press conference at City Hall, officials briefed the public on safety and transportation concerns ahead of the Final Four.

The city of Houston, the Houston Fire Department, the Houston Police Department and the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County spent over a year and a half planning for the Final Four, including conducting meetings and planning exercises, officials said.

"Our goal is a safe and fun event, first and foremost," said Holly Kesterson, president of the Houston Local Organizing Committee.

Kesterson thanked the over 2,500 volunteers signed up to help with the festivities. During the press conference, patrons were urged to plan trips in advance, utilize METRO services and ride-hailing apps, and be wary of street closures.

Throughout all events, no firearms are allowed, and bags must be clear.

Houston police Chief Troy Finner did not disclose the exact number of officers deployed for the Final Four festivities but said there will be hundreds on duty, including plain-clothes officers.

“You'll see a sea of uniforms, seen and unseen,” Finner said.

Houston fire Chief Samuel Peña said NRG Stadium and Discovery Green will be “very congested areas” and asked drivers to have patience while moving through the city during the events.

“To play host to one of the largest sporting events in the nation is a big deal,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “It is a win for our citizens. It is a win to be on the national stage. It is a win to welcome a projected 75,000 more out-of-towners to the city we call home.”

The mayor noted all four teams—the University of Miami, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Connecticut and San Diego State University—will be coming from outside of Texas, making it “good for the hotels” in Houston.

METRO offering free rides

From March 31 to April 3, METRO is offering free rides, courtesy of Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages. According to METRO, more than 255,000 fans used public transit options during the 2016 Final Four.

METRO officials recommended riders plan their trips in advance by viewing METRO’s Final Four webpage, using the RideMETRO app and by signing up for METRO alerts.

March Madness Music Festival

A three-day music festival sponsored by AT&T, Capital One and CocaCola will take place from March 31 to April 2 at the Discovery Green indowntown, 1500 McKinney St., Houston.

The AT&T Block Party on March 31 from 4:30-10 p.m. will include performances by headlining act and Houston native Megan Thee Stallion as well as Omar Apollo and J.I.D.

Headlining artist Lil Nas X and Maggie Rogers will perform at the Move by CocaCola party April 1 from 3-9 p.m.

On April 2, headliners Tim McGraw and Keith Urban, joined by Little Big Town and Mickey Guyton, will perform at the Capital One Jamfest from 2:30-10 p.m.

Tickets are available while supplies last at the NCAA March Madness Music Festival website.

The Dribble and Fan Fest

At Hermann Square, outside of Houston City Hall, children up to age 18 can dribble down a 1-mile course starting at 11 a.m. April 2. This event is free, and the first 3,200 registrants will receive an NCAA Dribble T-shirt, a Men's Final Four Dribble-themed basketball and free entry into Men's Final Four Fan Fest for Dribble participants and accompanying adults.

Fan Fest will take place March 31-April 2 from noon-8 p.m. and April 3 from noon-6 p.m.

Legacy project in Third Ward

Each year, in concert with the Final Four, the NCAA—along with corporate sponsors and local partners, such as the Houston Local Organizing Committee—awards a legacy project to benefit the community.

After receiving numerous applications, the project was awarded to Blue Triangle Community Center, a hub in the Third Ward at 3005 McGowen St., Houston, that has served residents since 1919. The Blue Triangle was originally established as a branch of the YWCA.

The Blue Triangle was Houston's first YWCA chapter and the only one open to women and girls of color when it opened, said Dorita Hatchett, senior director of community relations for the Houston Local Organizing Committee, at a March 28 press conference unveiling renovations at the facility.

“Many have learned to swim, quilt, dance and play basketball here over the years,” Hatchett said.

The press conference and ribbon-cutting was attended by Turner and Houston City Council Member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, among others.

Degree, a corporate sponsor, and its parent company Unilever, contributed $100,000 for the revitalization of the century-old center, including its basketball court. The community center also received an additional $25,000 donation from Unilever and H-E-B to update its playground.

“The investment from Degree into the playground and gymnasium will refresh and revitalize this community center providing safe clean and innovative spaces for children, adults and families to once again play and learn,” said Janis Burke, CEO of the Harris County Houston Sports Authority.

Burke said they will release revenue figures after the Final Four, but the city could see “an economic impact of $150 [million] to $250 million depending what teams come in.”

Melissa Enaje and Dave Manning contributed to this report.