Tulsa Businesses Prepare For NCAA Tournament
Tulsa is gearing up to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Basketball Tournament this weekend and there are lots of preparations underway.
The Tulsa Chamber is working with hotels and the NCAA to make sure all of the teams have a place to stay.
Local businesses are also stepping up their game to match the excitement off the court.
They say it's not just about the games, it's about the experience, and lots of people are working behind the scenes to make this year one to remember.
Businesses from hotels to bakeries, to restaurants to local attractions are preparing for a wave of Basketball fans to come into town this weekend.
"We want them to get out in the community and experience Tulsa’s unique culture," said Tulsa Chamber President of Regional Tourism, Ray Hoyt.
Eight teams that haven’t played in the Tournament in Tulsa before will be heading to the BOK to face off on the court
Related Story: NCAA Announces Teams To Play At BOK Center
“All those new fans are coming to Tulsa for the first time and a lot of the teams are regional so when you look at those teams they are people who could come back," said Hoyt.
Off the court, many local businesses are getting prepared to host thousands of fans traveling to watch them play.
"So many great fan bases,” said General Manager of Elgin Park, J.L. Lewis. “We are ready to show off our city and show off our restaurant."
Elgin Park is preparing for their first NCAA Basketball Block Party this weekend.
They will be playing basketball on the big screen, serving food and of course, pouring lots of beer.
They are even bringing in some extra Busch Light to accommodate the Iowa State Fans heading into town.
“We’re bringing in the beer and the food and just making a great atmosphere for these fans from all over the country," said Lewis.
Many of the teams already have their hotel accommodations set up.
But since Sunday’s Bracket announcement, fans, media members, and NCAA staff have been on the line trying to book a room at one of the many hotels downtown.
“We might have anyone from media to the NCAA tournament directors can book here so we have some of that that’s already been booked ahead of time but since the release on Sunday its filling up quick,” said General Manager of Hampton Suites, Michelle Russell.
In the past few years, several hotels have gone up in downtown Tulsa and General Manager of Hampton Suites, Michelle Russell thinks this is a direct reflection on Tulsa’s growth. She says it also helps Tulsa support big attractions like this.
“As downtown grows and all these events come in, hotels can hold them and host the large demand,” said Russell.
Russell says whenever guests ask them where to visit or eat, they always encourage them to stay local.
“We always want to keep them downtown, keep them eating here, keep them shopping here just kind of spending their time in the downtown area,” said Russell.
Giving Tulsa the opportunity to showcase its unique culture, flavors and growth.
“This city has been growing and has made some big moves in the past five years and here’s our chance to show it off,” said Lewis.
Thursday there will be an open practice day here at the BOK for teams that the public can attend.
Northern Kentucky from 11-11:40 a.m.;
Arizona State/St. John from 11:45-12:25;
Texas Tech from 12:30-1:10;
Buffalo from 1:15 to 1:55;
Houston from 3:25-4:05;
Iowa State from 4:10-4:50;
Georgia State from 4:55-5:35;
Ohio State from 5:40-6:20.