The Women's Final Four Week started in Columbus with an eye toward the future. Thousands of fans from across the country will head to Columbus to see who wins the national championship but the kick-off for the festivities started Friday with a service project.
About 50 volunteers planted trees in Walnut Hill Park in east Columbus Friday afternoon. Organizers want the event to have zero emissions, so the trees will help offset the carbon footprint of the games.
"We want this event to be more than just about the three games and more than just about the week," said Laura Brown with the Greater Columbus Sports Commission. "We want it to have a lasting legacy on Columbus. They're not just going to come and play basketball and then leave but they want to leave something behind."
Volunteers will plant 125 trees in all over the next few months. The people who recruited the games to choose Columbus said the Women's Final Four is an audition for the city with the NCAA to prove it can handle major events.
"It's one of the biggest sporting events we've ever had, definitely the biggest women's sporting event we've ever had in the city just in terms of media exposure and exposure for our city to be put on a national stage," Brown said.
The games start Friday, but there will be events all next week leading up to tip-off. Organizers said they're going to have free events for the public like autograph signings, youth clinics, and a women's 3-on-3 tournament.