INTERVIEW: VCU gears up for the Final Four

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The VCU Ram run to the Final Four has become more than just sporting event. It has become a golden opportunity to showcase the city of Richmond on a national stage. It is something local leaders are hoping to maximize this weekend and then beyond.

And we are pleased to be joined today on First at 4 by the Mayor of Richmond Dwight Jones.

Ryan Nobles: Now, Mr. Mayor thanks so much for being here.

Dwight Jones: Thanks for inviting me.

Ryan Nobles: You are obviously constantly working to sing the praises of the city of Richmond, but could you ever imagine having the kind of national platform that you have right now to tell everyone about all the great things happening in the city?

Dwight Jones: Well, now that everybody is on the Ram wagon, it's really great. I mean, it's making my job extremely easy. We just did our tourism commission, but what has happened in the last few weeks is worth millions of dollars of marketing.

Ryan Nobles: And along with that comes a lot of national media appearances for you.

Dwight Jones: Right.

Ryan Nobles: You're going to be on ESPN on Friday. You're going to place a gentleman's wager with the mayor of Indianapolis. Tell us a little bit about that.

Dwight Jones: Of course, I'm not a betting man.

Ryan Nobles: Of course not, right.

Dwight Jones: A gentleman's wager is a good way to put it. We also don't believe that the mayor of Indianapolis will get a chance to collect on the wager because we're going to win.

Ryan Nobles: Right.

Dwight Jones: But we put a little gentleman's wager out there and inviting him to come and see what Richmond is all about. Stay at the Jefferson Hotel, ticket to Picasso and one of the most famous best museums in the country, one of the ten best, so we have a lot of offer and what this is doing is allowing people to know what we already know. And that is that Richmond as great city.

Ryan Nobles: And there's also been just an incredible sense of community by people, of course, in the city and beyond. And you're trying to maximize that as well. It's almost like a holiday feel. Tell me how you're going to continue that holiday feel.

Dwight Jones:  We want to continue its on Saturday, we have the 10k, 40,000 people going to be running and they have gotten on board with asking people to wear black and gold. We're passing out Rams signs and going to turn on our Love Lights. Ray Boone at the Free Press has made this suggestion and we bought into it, so at 6:09 tonight, we're going to turn on our lights on City Hall, other businesses are going to do that.

Ryan Nobles: Grand illumination.

Dwight Jones: Grand illumination and 6:09 is because the tipoff on Saturday is 6:09, so we're having the businesses to light up during this time.

Ryan Nobles:  And you have your budget what you're going to announce later this week. You've already mentioned that it will create challenges. Do you think we're going to have to see cuts in the city budget at this point?

Dwight Jones: I think it is a challenging sometime and there are going to be some cuts, but we'll present a bald budget and we will not -- balanced budget and we will not affect core services if at all possible.

Ryan Nobles: Always on the job no matter what.

Dwight Jones: That's right.

Ryan Nobles:  I appreciate you being here, and I'll see you in Houston in a couple days.

Dwight Jones: Go Rams!

Ryan Nobles:  Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Go Rams!

See the video at right for the full interview.

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