2017 Final Four court will have lots of sunlight shining on it

University of Phoenix Stadium will be a unique place to play.

The Final Four’s national semifinals are Saturday in Glendale, Ariz. They’ll be evening and night games for people watching on the East Coast, but South Carolina and Gonzaga will tip at 3:09 p.m. local time in Arizona: an afternoon game.

The venue housing the Final Four is University of Phoenix Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Cardinals. It’s a unique place, with lots of amenities and a grass field that literally rolls in and out of the building. It also has a retractable roof, and on Saturday, which happens to be April Fools’ Day, the NCAA’s media coordination director tweeted:

Basketball’s a game often played outdoors, but this is the Final Four and not a concrete court in a park. If the NCAA were actually prepared to play national semifinals in the open air, that’d be pretty stunning. But it doesn’t look like that’s happening.

Shortly after 4 p.m. ET — only two hours before tipoff of the first game — CBS showed a live overhead shot of the stadium. The roof wasn’t open then.

uop stadium CBS

Here’s the thing about the stadium’s roof, though: It lets in lots of natural light. And because this is Arizona and the sun’s shining bright, there’s going to be a lot of natural light flooding into the stadium, especially during the first game. The second starts at approximately 5:49 p.m. local time, and sunset’s not until about 6:50 p.m.

This means we’re going to be watching a rather bright Final Four, at least for the first game and much of the second. The sunlight will be hard to miss.


The roof in Glendale seems similar to the one at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which hosted the Final Four in 2014. The first semifinal that year started at about 5 p.m. local time, and natural light made its way into the venue then, too.

 Richard Johnson, SB Nation

By the end of the first game, it looked different. But Arlington is a couple of hours ahead of Glendale, which still has to have games on an Eastern TV schedule despite being nestled in the Southwest. It’ll take longer for the stadium to look like this:

 Richard Johnson, SB Nation

And here’s the stunning look as the sunset in Glendale, right around 6:49 p.m. local time.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Oregon vs North Carolina Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The huge video board hanging over mid-court will surely blot out much of the natural light that enters the building. But this was still going to be a much differently lit venue than what any basketball team sees on a regular basis.

Last year’s Final Four was at NRG Stadium in Houston, which also has a roof that lets natural light inside. This isn’t an entirely new dynamic for the NCAA.

Last year, you might remember that an annoying glare showed up on the court during TBS’ broadcast of the night’s first game. CBS is taking steps to make sure that doesn’t happen again this year. It’ll be impossible to evaluate with certainty how the sunlight affects the game, but it’ll add to what’s already an unusual basketball environment.

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