NCAA Regional could generate well over $1 million for Louisville - WDRB 41 Louisville News

NCAA Regional could generate well over $1 million for Louisville businesses

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville will host the 2016 NCAA men's basketball South Regional, attracting out-of-town guests and national exposure.

Louisville hasn't hosted a regional since 1987. It was the year that Rick Pitino led Providence to an upset over Georgetown.

"This is really a gift that the university is giving to this community," said Karl Schmitt of the Louisville Sports Commission. "It's an enormous opportunity for the community, primarily from the exposure stand point."

Schmitt said the extensive national media coverage of the event will give the city nothing but positive exposure.

The Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that when Louisville hosted early rounds of the tournament in 2012 it generated an economic impact of $1 million to $1.5 million -- money that's absorbed by nearby businesses like the Bluegrass Brewing Company.

"When Kentucky played here a couple years ago in the tournament, it was just a madhouse," said Josh Price, general manager of BBC's downtown location. "It's a great environment. We sell a lot of beer, a lot of food, and have fun."

The downtown restaurant will mostly be catering to out-of-town fans, since NCAA rules won't allow U of L to play in their home arena.

"We'll be rooting for them where ever they're at, hopefully they're still in it at that point," said Price. "But we just like having a good time. As long as there are a bunch of people downtown, we're happy to have whoever is here."

And even a deep-seated rivalry can't keep the Wildcats head coach from celebrating the news. In 2012, John Calipari's team won both tournament games it played in Louisville on its way to an NCAA Championship.

"It's good for our state. It's good for a city that drives the state, Louisville. It's good for all the fans that love basketball in this state. So it's a good thing. Our team played well in that arena," Calipari said.

Schmitt said one reason Louisville hasn't hosted Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games in several decades is because the weekend usually falls on a date that is already booked for the Mid-America Truck Show. Schmitt says the truck show is a huge event for the city.

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