March Madness Festival has been making headlines around the country since it was announced last month. To accompany the NCAA's Final Four tournament in Dallas this week, the college basketball league is throwing the city an enormous free weekend-long outdoor music festival at Reunion Park (by the old Reunion Arena site).
Between Conan-mania, the basketball games, and March Madness Festival-- it's proving to be busy, crowded week for downtown Dallas. Don't let that stop you, though. What kind of live music fan would you be if you let a little crowd action keep you from a free Bruce Springsteen concert? Here is a quick rundown of everything you need to know to have a enjoyable March Madness Festival experience this weekend.
Who's playing, and when? Friday's lineup includes Jack Ingram (3:30-4:30 p.m.), The Wild Feathers (5-6 p.m), Eli Young Band (6:30-8 p.m.), and Jason Aldean (8:30-10 p.m.). Gates open at 3 p.m.
Saturday includes LL Cool J (1:30-2:15 p.m.), Tim McGraw (2:45-4:15 p.m.), and The Killers (7:30-9 p.m.). Gates open at noon.
Sunday includes The Wind and The Wave (2:15-3 p.m.), Pat Green (3:30-4:30 p.m.), fun. (5:15-6:30 p.m.), and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (7:15-10:15 p.m.). Gates open at 2 p.m.
Am I even going to get in? Though March Madness Festival is entirely free to get into, Reunion Park is only equipped to handle a capacity of about 20-30 thousand people. Is it doable? Absolutely. 20-30k is a pretty big number, but you're definitely going to want to get there early. Parking will be available at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, and the DART is likely to be packed. On Saturday and Sunday it would probably be in your best interest to head Downtown for brunch, park in one of the many all-day paid lots in the area, and walk to Reunion Park.
If you're hoping to get a spot close to the stage, then I'd suggest you go extremely early, or possibly take on some more realistic expectations. There will be video screens and jumbotrons all over the park, ensuring that everyone will be able to watch the show from anywhere in the park. See the map below for the locations of the fest's three entrance points, and further strategizing.
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What can I bring? It looks like every patron allowed in the park is going to be searched by security first, and there are a surprising amount of contraband items at March Madness Festival. While the official website doesn't outrightly prohibit blankets or towels for sitting on the grass, it does state, "No folding chairs, bikes or other large personal items.". That means no coolers or umbrellas.
Bags or backpacks larger that 11" by 17", weapons, pets (unless service animal certified), outside food and drinks, video cameras, still cameras with lenses longer than 4 inches, noise makers, and "poles or sticks of any kind" are among the other items that security won't let you bring into the park. And if you choose to leave any one of these things behind (hopefully not your pet) at the entrance points, you won't be able to collect them later.
Oddly enough, the official website also states that beach balls and basketballs will be permitted, as long as they are regulation size. Because no live music fan leaves home for a concert without their regulation size basketball, right?