PHOENIX – With the 2024 NCAA Men’s Final Four® tipping off this week, NCAA officials and the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee teamed up with Arizona leaders Tuesday to unveil the NCAA Men’s Final Four Legacy Project presented by Degree Deodorant® at historic Eastlake Park Community Center in central Phoenix.

“Degree is thrilled to be continuing its work with the Legacy Project this year,” said Unilever Global Brand Vice President Kathryn Swallow. “At Degree we believe that the benefits of movement are so important that everyone should have the right access to it. We’re working to break down the barriers that hold people back from moving; whether it’s the physical access or the mental barriers you set for yourself. We want to inspire the confidence in everyone to move beyond their limits.”

“We can clearly see the impact of the Valley’s second Men’s Final Four here today,” said Jay Parry, CEO of the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee, which is collaborating with the NCAA to host the Men’s Final Four. “This project demonstrates the power of the Men’s Final Four to improve a community through strong, lasting partnerships. We are grateful for the support of the NCAA and Degree Deodorant®.”

The 2024 Men’s Final Four opens Saturday, April 6, with Connecticut facing Alabama and Purdue playing North Carolina State in the national semifinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. The national championship game will be played on Monday, April 8.

Officials also announced key details about ancillary events in downtown Phoenix, including a the Men’s Final Four Fan Fest presented by Capital One and NCAA March Madness Music Festival.

Eastlake Park Community Center, located at 1549 E. Jefferson Street in Phoenix, has long been a hub of activity in the city’s African-American community. 

The project includes a complete refinish of the indoor basketball court; adjustable hoops and backboards; new scoreboard with shot clock; new benches, bleachers, wall pads, weight room equipment and rubber floor in the weight room. An outdoor basketball court was also refurbished and outfitted with new backboards and hoops. A mural paying tribute to the park’s rich history was painted by a local artist to enhance the site. 

“It’s important to the NCAA to invest in the communities that host our championship events,” said JoAn Scott, NCAA vice president of men’s basketball. “This project is about more than new basketball hoops and facility updates – it’s about the future of the community and the residents that this park serves.”

About 20,000 youth and adults use the gymnasium annually, and another 8,000 play on the adjacent outdoor court.The facility also hosts the Annual Arizona MLK Basketball Classic, a tournament for local teams held in connection with the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

Eastlake Park was established in 1889 as a gathering place for neighborhood meetings, picnics, concerts, sports, and other recreational activities for African Americans. The center and its namesake park played a central role in the civil rights movement in Arizona, hosting numerous rallies and visits from civil rights leaders. The park was also the starting point of many civil rights marches to the Arizona State Capitol, and it has hosted a large Juneteenth celebration for many years.

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego joined NCAA and Phoenix Local Organizing Committee officials at a news conference at the community center.  

“The NCAA Men’s Final Four Legacy Project will be a vibrant reminder of the 2024 Men’s Final Four and its positive impact on Arizona,” Governor Hobbs said. “I thank the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee and the NCAA for creating a legacy that will last long after the national champion is crowned.”

“Thanks to this NCAA Legacy Project, the next generation of Phoenix basketball stars can begin to dream early on about one day participating in the Men’s Final Four,” Mayor Gallego said. “We are grateful for the support of the NCAA, the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee, and Degree Deodorant® for their collaborative work to make an indelible positive mark on our community.”

The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) also provided support for the project.

“This worthy Legacy Project is aligned with AZSTA’s Youth and Amateur Sports Grants program, which encourages partnerships that benefit youth and amateur sports and promote physical activity,” AZSTA Board Chair Kim Grace Sabow said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to assist with an initiative that will positively impact so many young lives. AZSTA is delivering on the promise made to Maricopa County voters who approved Proposition 302.”