Executive Director of the Phoenix Final Four

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Hear from the newly-named executive director of the Phoenix Final Four college basketball championships. Dawn Rogers, executive director of the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee of the 2017 Final Four, will tell us about her role and preparations for the event.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," we'll talk with the new director of the group responsible for organizing the final four in Phoenix. Learn how one tool is helping police identify who is most at risk of becoming a victim of deadly violence. And we'll find out why some consider a new tech agreement between Mexico and Arizona a pretty big deal. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon."

VIDEO: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Christina Estes, in for Ted Simons. For the first time in more than 20 years, the final four will take place in the west. In 2017, the university of Phoenix stadium will welcome the men's NCAA semifinals and national championship basketball games. The person who will lead the local organizing committee was just announced yesterday. Executive director dawn Rogers joins us to talk about her role and what the event means for all of us here in Arizona.

DAWN ROGERS: Thank you for coming in.

CHRISTINA ESTES: You were involved in the bid process, what clinched it for Phoenix.

DAWN ROGERS: The region, hospitality of the region, and how excited everyone was to host. When the committee was here last November, they sensed how much our community wanted to have the event here and that meant a lot to them.

CHRISTINA ESTES: After winning the bid, I read that you immediately started to look to see who is the best person to lead the way. And you looked in the mirror and said it's me.

DAWN ROGERS: I did. You know, I was so excited. Our group was. We have been working on this collectively since 2007. So excited when we got the bid -- you immediately start planning, and so I kind of started to think who -- we have such tremendous folks here in the valley and I started to think who would be the right person? It was something I was really passionate about. I love the leadership of the NCAA. I love the folks that we worked with across the valley, and, so, I talked to my husband and talked to my family and I thought it was the right time for me to try something new and fortunately for me the committee agreed.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Now we just had the bowl here earlier this year. Host committee had to come up with $30 million for the game, events surrounding the game and I think the national college football championship, like $16 million or so they have to raise. What do you have to raise for the final four? Where is the money going to come from and where is it going to go?

DAWN ROGERS: We will not have to raise as much as the Champ game, we are finally the budget. Before I throw a number out there that is a little too high or too low, we are going to firm up our budget. But it is less. We will go to some of the same stakeholders that have supported the previous 3 events because I throw the pro bowl in there as well and we will look to new people that have an interest in college basketball where they might not have had an interest in football. But we will look across the region and put together a financing plan that works to host the games. We're -- we feel really confident that that will -- we will be able to raise the money for it. People are excited to have this here for the first time ever.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Sports fans, a lot of them are excited about it. Why should non-sports fans care about this?

DAWN ROGERS: I think any time you host an event like this, it brings a lot of fun activities to the valley. So, one if, you are a music fan, you will love the music festival. Last year, Rihanna played during the games at the viewing party. Zach Brown band, Lady Antebellum were here. Two years ago, a group of, not me, but a group -- sat in the rain listening to a -- Bruce Springsteen. There will be a lot of parties and activities, a run and a dribble. Even if you are not a basketball fan, there will be a lot of things for you and your family to enjoy.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Just like the last Super Bowl, final four games will be played at the university of Phoenix stadium in Glendale. A lot of events downtown Phoenix. And you want to make sure that Arizona state university is very involved.

DAWN ROGERS: Yes.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Why, and how do you hope to do that?

DAWN ROGERS: I think one of the things that was unique about our bid was we talked about the host institution, and right now we have students at Arizona state university involved in the planning of the event. For example, we are doing a sustainability class, part of the project at the end of the class is putting together sustainability ideas to implement at the final four. I have been working with the college of nursing, college of education, Cronkite. We will involve other colleges as well, and we really want this event to actually be a classroom for our students at Arizona State University.

CHRISTINA ESTES: When you talk about sustainability, sometimes people thing oh, you throw up recycling bins and people throw their paper cups in there. You are talking about something bigger.

DAWN ROGERS: You can run at gamut of different events, ways to power events. I like the one phrase that my colleague uses that recycling is the doorstep to sustainability. So, there is taking power off of the grid. There is a lot of different ideas, and I'm excited to see what students come up with in the class of different off the wall ideas that we can implement.

CHRISTINA ESTES: You tossed out a couple of groups, organizations when it comes to legacy projects. What are legacy projects and what are you looking to do with that?

DAWN ROGERS: One thing that the NCAA is passionate about, leaving a legacy when the event is over, leaving the community better than when the event came. We have looked at a couple of different programs that speak to our area, the Hispanic mother/daughter program, is one of them, but we will do a lot around literacy. Something that the NCAA is passionate about. We will unveil our logo in a couple of weeks and we will have an elementary school involved in that and we will be talking about a literacy program and things that we do throughout the course of the year. Again, that's something that I'm excited about the students at Arizona State coming up with different ideas of how we can use a platform of the Final Four to educate youth about fitness and nutrition and sustainability.

CHRISTINA ESTES: You are very excited, obviously. What are you most concerned about? What do you think maybe is going to keep you up at night sometimes?

DAWN ROGERS: You know, I think overall, it's -- it's our first opportunity to host here. And everyone on our committee just wants it to be an outstanding event. Certainly the Super Bowl set a really high bar. The national championship game will do the same. We want it to be an event that people are talking about, that went off flawlessly, but does have a lasting impact on the valley. I think what keeps me up right now is just all of the different ideas that are running through my head and I feel very fortunate that we have the time to work on those ideas before the baton is handed off to us in April when we attend the Final Four in Houston.

CHRISTINA ESTES: You need to ration your sleep. You have 18 months. Get to sleep now.

DAWN ROGERS: Thank you.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Dawn Rogers, thank you so much, executive director of the Phoenix final four. We appreciate you coming in.

DAWN ROGERS: Thank you.

Dawn Rogers: Executive Director of the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee of the 2017 Final Four

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