Big Blue will mean Big Bucks for downtown businesses - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Big Blue will mean Big Bucks for downtown businesses

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRD) -- The first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional will be held in Louisville.

With the Kentucky Wildcats in the mix, downtown restaurants are counting on big bucks from Big Blue.

The KFC YUM! Center may be home to the Louisville Cardinals, but the Big Blue Nation is about to invade.

For downtown restaurants this week, the favorite color will not be red or blue - but green.

At the Sports and Social Club, there is a definite Blue Hue as Wildcat fans gathered to watch Kentucky win the SEC tournament.

“UK's not done yet," Dwayne Stephens said. "We're number one, people. Remember that. We're number one."

Stephens was among a group of Wildcat fans from Winchester. They are hoping to return to Louisville later this week, when their team invades the YUM! Center.

“Anybody know how I can get tickets out there?” questioned Rebecca Strohacker.

“The fans follow," Stephens said. "They spend tons of money. They just enjoy it. They follow UK. It's crazy."

That's just what downtown bars and restaurants want to hear.

“We've ordered enough beer, enough food. We got the stock. We're ready to go for it. Should be fun,” Sports & Social Club manager Cameron Mansfield said.

The Bluegrass Brewing Company is right across the street from the YUM! Center.

Manager Mike Price expects at least four times his normal business.

“One thing else you have to remember is that [Kentucky] is just one fan base. You're going to have eight teams over there, so we'll have seven other fan bases. UK's the big one, but it's going to be a packed house in here, and it's going to be a lot of fun,” Price said.

The rising Ohio River will impact traffic for fans arriving for the game. Flood waters have prompted the closing of the Third St. ramp from I-64 to downtown.

Price does not expect the flooding to dampen his business.

“We're within walking distance. When everybody lets out, they look around and go. ‘Oh, let's go across the street.' So, it does more business for us than Derby,” he said.

Besides, Big Blue Fans will follow the Cats anywhere - come 'you-know-what' - or high water.

“They're going to be so many fans here,” Cats fan Rita Charles said. “It's going to be nothing but solid blue fans around here.”

Fans are expected to start arriving on Wednesday, with UK playing the winner of Manhattan and Hampton on Thursday at 9:45 p.m.

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