Dan Bewley, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa is hosting two rounds of the NCAA basketball championship next month. Those teams, who will be playing at the BOK Center in downtown Tulsa, are expected to bring between 70,000-100,000 fans.
"That's the message really, they're coming so let's be prepared," Ray Hoyt, with the Tulsa Sports Commission, said.
Ray Hoyt, Executive Director of the Tulsa Sports Commission, is knee-deep in preparations for one of the largest sporting events to come to downtown Tulsa.
"It's all about sitting down and making sure everybody is on the same page and finalizing some details," Hoyt said.
The BOK Center plays host to games in the second and third rounds of the NCAA Mens Basketball Championships March 18–20, 2011. Eight teams will play for a chance to get to the Final Four.
Like last year in Oklahoma City, they'll bring plenty of fans and plenty of enthusiasm. Hoyt says that should translate to at least an 8-million dollar economic impact on the city.
The question now is which schools will be here. The University of Tulsa is out because it's the host university and OU and OSU may not even make the tournament.
But Hoyt says that may be better for the city because both Texas and Kansas are two of the top teams in the country.
"Those fans will probably drive in and leave and, I think, teams like Kansas and Texas and those teams that have to travel three and four hours to get here, those fans won't leave, they'll come and stay," he said.
The tournament is also being counted down in the Blue Dome district. Restaurant and bar owners expect a large increase in business.
"Yeah, we're getting nervous but really excited," Dru Titchener said.
Dru Titchener of the Dilly Deli is hoping for as much of a 20 percent boost in business.
"It used to be such a ghost town down here and now there's so much great stuff coming and if we do well this year hopefully it'll come back in a couple of years," she said.
Several downtown businesses will be hosting a fan fest in a parking lot near the BOK during the three day event. There will be plenty of kid -friendly games and a place to watch the tournament on TV.