Adia Barnes and the Arizona women's basketball team saw their season come to an end Monday at the hands of the University of North Carolina, but for University of Arizona area businesses, hosting the first two rounds of the women’s NCAA March Madness was a financial boon.
McKale Center sold 17,906 tickets over the two games Saturday, March 19, and Monday, March 21, Arizona Athletics department officials reported.
It was the second time in school history that Arizona hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA women's Tournament.
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Matt Ensor, assistant athletic director of communications, said hosting was important because it allowed the team to stay home and play in front of their fans.
It also gave Arizona valuable national exposure with the increased media coverage, he said.
“Obviously, NCAA Tournament March Madness is a popular thing for the news to cover. But when you're hosting it creates that much more of a media and economic impact by just getting the word out there promoting the event, covering the event and all the excitement around it,” Ensor said.
The two rounds in McKale, four games in all, were televised nationally, which allowed the university and Tucson “to reach that many millions of households” that cast university and the city “in the brightest of lights across the country,” Ensor said.
Jill Nghiem, general manager for the Tucson Marriott University Park Hotel, said the hotel made $75,000 in additional revenue during March Madness from people eating in the hotel restaurant and drinking at the bar.
When the Tar Heels arrived at the Marriott on Tuesday, March 15, the marching band was up in front and you could see all smiles from the North Carolina basketball team, Nghiem said.
“Having the energy in the hotel makes all the other guests really enjoy it and get excited about what's going on over on campus,” Nghiem said. “It's fun. It’s a cool thing for people to see and to be involved in, even if they weren't planning on attending any sort of event like that.”
Restaurants and bars on Main Gate Square along East University Boulevard experienced an uptick in business. Students and locals gathered in the most popular pubs to watch the men’s and women’s March Madness games. Places like Gentle Ben’s, Illegal Pete’s, Frog & Firkin and No Anchovies turn on their multiple TVs and big screens to Arizona basketball games.
For game days, Gentle Ben’s opens the upstairs area to have more capacity and sets up a Jumbotron and sound system to have a better experience.
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