March Madness ended early for Arizona WBB, but was a boom for University of Arizona area businesses


Adia Barnes and the Arizona women’s basketball team saw their season ended Monday at the hands of the University of North Carolina, but for businesses in the University of Arizona area, l Organizing the first two rounds of the Women’s NCAA March Madness was a financial boon.

The McKale Center sold 17,906 tickets during the two games on Saturday March 19 and Monday March 21, Arizona Athletic 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 director of sports communications, said the accommodation 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 increased media coverage, he said.

“Obviously, the March Madness of the NCAA Tournament is a popular thing to cover in the news. But when you organize, it creates even greater media and economic impact by simply spreading the word to promote the event, by covering the event and all the excitement surrounding it,” Ensor said.

McKale’s two rounds, four games in all, were nationally televised, allowing the university and Tucson “to reach those millions of homes ‘that projected the university and the city'” in the brightest lights across the country,” Ensor said.

Jill Nghiem, general manager of the Tucson Marriott University Park Hotel, said the hotel made $75,000 in additional revenue during March Madness from people eating at the hotel restaurant and drinking at the bar.

When the Tar Heels arrived at the Marriott on Tuesday, March 15, the marching band was out front and you could see all the smiles from the North Carolina basketball team, Nghiem said.

“Having the energy in the hotel makes all the other guests really appreciate it and are excited about what’s happening on campus,” Nghiem said. “It’s fun. It’s a cool thing to see and people can participate in, even if they weren’t planning on attending an event like this.

Restaurants and bars in Main Gate Square, along East University Boulevard, saw a spike in business. Students and locals gathered in the most popular pubs to watch March Madness men’s and women’s matches. Places like Gentle Ben’s, Illegal Pete’s, Frog & Firkin and No Anchovies turn on their multiple TVs and big screens for Arizona basketball games.

For match days, Gentle Ben’s opens up the upstairs area for more capacity and sets up a Jumbotron and sound system for a better experience.

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