If I Were a Kid …

… I would live for Bracket Town. Bracket Town is the NCAA’s fan center in the Convention Center, and while there was less there for me as an adult than I expected or hoped – an awkward video Q&A session with former Arkansas Razorbacks’ coach Nolan Richardson, for example – it is the best Celebration Station. It’s part of the NCAA’s efforts to turn the Final Four into an event that engages a city and not just the fans going to the games today and Monday, along with the Big Dance Concert Series at Woldenberg Park, and both events are more or less spot on. The NFL’s efforts to achieve similar results have generally been sadly tone-deaf by comparison.

For the most part, Bracket Town is a series of skills challenges, my favorite being a row of lowered baskets on which kids with average-at-best hops could dunk. If it wouldn’t have been embarrassing, I would have tried this. The set-up, like most of the games at Bracket Town, looks built to last not only the weekend but the month if it had to. There are also games for fans of other sports. There’s a football agility drill, a passing precision drill, and a lacrosse goal that players can shoot at. For adults, the LD pavilion showing off its appliances had open dryers that adults could competitively throw laundry into.

Obviously, there’s a whole corporate dimension to Bracket Town as well. At a computerized drink dispenser beside the Coca Cola court, a woman faced with the choice of all the soft drink’s flavor choices opted for Dasani’s water. But the shilling wasn’t aggressive. You could spend a day with a kid in a lot of worse ways.