The NCAA First Four basketball tournament, which officials say generates more than $4.5 million in direct spending at area businesses on game nights, will stay at the University of Dayton arena through 2022.
UD has hosted the games since the First Four’s inception in 2011, and the university’s history with the NCAA goes back farther than that. Now, they’ll build on that reputation for another five years — adding major dollars in economic impact for the city.
The Big Hoopla First Four Local Organizing Committee works “collaboratively to drive significant, long-term economic value for the Dayton region,” a university statement said.
» March Madness: NCAA First Four to spur economic growth in Dayton
The Big Hoopla is comprised of Dayton business leaders like Dayton Development Coalition President Jeff Hoagland, Downtown Dayton Partnership Sandy Gudorf and JP Nauseef, president and CEO of Krush Technologies.
“Every year, there’s a tremendous effort to make sure we’re doing everything possible to create a great atmosphere, and ensure we bring this event to Dayton in the future,” said Jacquelyn Powell, president and CEO of the Dayton Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The NCAA has delivered more than $70 million in direct impact in surrounding communities, according to a 2015 report. Neil Sullivan, vice president and director of athletics for UD, told this news organization that community partners and local business were “crucial” to securing the tournament for additional years.
The university and committee both have worked to tailor the First Four experience for players and fans from the time they enter the city. When teams touch down at the Dayton International Airport, bagpipers play the schools’ fights songs and the celebration starts.
The university doesn’t look at the tournament as a step down from the real deal.
“It’s not an opening act,” Sullivan said.
From the Dayton International Airport to local bars and restaurants, the games ramp up spending in the local community. Hotels are booked by out-of-towners, and hungry and thirsty fans takeover locals bars and other joints. The city and UD have been praised in the past for their hosting efforts.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said the NCAA tournament was a “big economic boost” for the state.
“Dayton has proven it has the people, experience and enthusiasm to put on a world-class effort, and I look forward to seeing it continue to play a big role in future tournaments,” said Gov. John Kasich, in a previous statement.
Dayton won a three-year bid in 2014, keeping the First Four through 2018. It bid last August to host the games from 2019-22. Their competition included: Evansville, Ind.; Detroit; and Hershey, Pa.
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