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Local businesses expect sweet boost from Sweet 16 NCAA tournament games

Event organizers say the fans will make a difference in the economic impact the NCAA Tournament regional rounds will leave on San Antonio.

San Antonio is prepared to host a regional round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

In the past, it’s provided an economic boost for the city, and the future looks bright for this weekend, according to event organizers.

Last year, San Antonio hosted the entire NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament in a bubble at the Alamodome due to COVID-19. But this year, there is a sense of normalcy.

The missing ingredient for a successful tournament, lost during COVID, will be returning.

From the streets of downtown to the stadiums, the cheer of the fans and the cash they spend makes March Madness great for host cities.

“I’ll probably leave a million and a half just getting lunch, but it’s going to be fun,” Bill Sherman said. Sherman traveled to town to cheer on his Arizona Wildcats.

“We’ve returned to what March Madness truly is, and we’re all so grateful to be in this position after the last two years,” Jenny Carnes, executive director of the San Antonio organizing committee and CEO of San Antonio Sports said.

While managing the women’s tournament last year, preparations were already underway for this weekend’s regional round in the men’s tournament.

“I know restaurants are ready to host out-of-towners and do what San Antonio does best, and that’s be a tourist destination,” Carnes said.

“All of our fans that are staying downtown are coming to Southtown, so it’s been a great week and we’re expecting a great weekend,” Jody Bailey Newman, chief friend of The Friendly Spot Ice House, says this spring is an opportunity for businesses to bounce back from the pandemic.

“Next week, we’ll kick off Fiesta, so we are prepared for the crowds. We ask patrons to be patient as we all try to ramp up and try to get back to doing business with a full house,” Bailey Newman said.

The organizing committee estimates a $10 million economic impact to the city, with about 15,000 hotel rooms occupied for the tournament. Carnes says those numbers are on par with previous regional tournaments the city has hosted.

Carnes is excited seeing her team’s work pay off.

“Just to see so many people out and about downtown on the RiverwWalk -- it was tremendous. And I know it’s going to be even busier and more exciting this week,” Carnes said.

Last year, the women’s tournament generated $27 million in economic impact. Tickets for this weekend’s games are still available, but Carnes expects each game to sell out.

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