City of Columbia Expected to Win Big During 2019 NCAA Tournament
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)- March Madness is headed to the Midlands for the first time since 1970. The tournament is anticipated to bring thousands to the city of Columbia which is a slam dunk for local businesses.
“We are indeed the new southern hot spot,” Mayor Steve Benjamin said.
The home for Gamecock basketball is now going to house one of televisions most watched sporting events in 2019, the NCAA Tournaments.
“March Madness is the second most viewed sporting events in the world, second only to the Superbowl, how can you not be excited about that,” Benjamin said.
This tournament is expected to be an economic slam dunk.
“We’ve come up with about $10.6 million of overall economic impact,” executive director Scott Powers said. “The hotels, restaurants, bar owners, and all of those people will have new business coming in to them.”
Colonial Life Arena is the largest arena in the state that seats 18,000 people.
“We have an unbelievable arena that seats a lot of folks and that’s attractive,” USC Men’s Basketball’s Head Coach. Frank Martin said.
For years this powerhouse arena could not house NCAA tournaments until the confederate flag came down from state house grounds.
“Obviously the unfortunate events of 2015 brought it down much quicker than many of us expected it to, but it came and it passed,” Benjamin said. “Every single opportunity we’ve had to articulate a ‘we’ and ‘us’ vision we’ve taken advantage of that.”
“Let’s not forget to say thank you because it took courage to do that,” USC President, Harris Pastides said about thanking South Carolina Government.
Once the flag came down and the NCAA lifted its ban, the city got busy and created a nearly 90 page proposal.
“We organized two visits up to Indianapolis to meet with the NCAA and it kind of went from there,” Powers said.
Columbia will host the First and Second Round games at Colonial Life Arena.