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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- March Madness is officially in full swing, and New Orleans is gearing up to host the Final Four.

Thousands of visiting basketball fans will be embraced by an army of volunteers.

'There are volunteers that will be used mainly at Bracket Town the NCAA's interactive theme park being held at the Convention Center,' said Jay Cicero, president of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.

Volunteers will also be assigned to the airport and hotels, and a select few will help out at the Superdome where crews have been working around the clock to prepare for the Final Four.

'Expecting a very large crowd. In fact the seating capacity for the Superdome is 20,000 more than it was in 2003. The economic impact has grown for the Men's Final Four. The official numbers are $145 million,' said Cicero.

This will be the fifth time that the Big Dance will come to New Orleans and on Thursday night dozens of volunteers showed up to the Superdome for their marching orders. Glenn Wiltz is retired and was recruited by a family member to help out.

'My son, the middle son, he had told me he had signed up for the Final Four, and once he did it, I said I want to do it too! So I went online and I found it and I'm here,' said Wiltz.

'You know, the tournament started today so we're down to crunch time,' said GNOSF Director of Volunteers Jeff Rossi at the first of several volunteer orientations planned in the next two weeks.

Rossi said recruiting and training good volunteers is what can make or break a big event like the Final Four where 2500 helpers will volunteer their time.

'The NCAA has to be happy by the performance and numbers but also the visitors have to be happy and they want to come back to New Orleans,' said Rossi, who added that 95 percent of Final Four volunteers have already been recruited.

Barb Hogan showed up to Thursday night's orientation. The Slidell resident is eager to sign up and give back to the city she loves.

'I just think it would be a great opportunity to meet other people in our community. I love New Orleans,' Hogan.

If you would like to help out, volunteers can still sign up for the Final Four and the 2013 Super Bowl by clicking here

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