Cleveland economy to benefit from March Madness

Cleveland economy to benefit from March Madness
The Q is bracing itself for crowds. (Source: WOIO)

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - has infected the Q and while many of the fans are wearing blue, Cleveland is seeing green.

Visitors poured into the city and filed into the Q Wednesday to watch their teams practice. They've come from Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia for the Midwest Regional Finals. 

It's not the first time we've seen this. The NCAA is a frequent visitor to the city, which is good news for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, the group that works to get these events.

"I think they look at other past NCAA events that we've hosted and how well they've gone, and you look at our partners, like the MAC, and how well their tournament is run, all those absolutely factor in those decisions," explained David Gilbert, CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.

This major event is just part of the puzzle the commission puts together. To build a successful year, Gilbert sets a goal of 10 to 12 national events, including a brand name anchor event, like the NCAA tournament, and it shoots for a direct economic impact of nearly $15 million. 

"I do think one of the X factors is the people in the community. I think how welcoming people feel when they're here, and that has a lot to with the average person on the street they meet," said Gilbert.

Another big part of all of this is the rejuvenated downtown. Before and after the games -- especially on Friday's off day -- people will explore the city. 

"They're going to get to see and do a lot of things. They'll probably go to the Rock Hall, a lot of our neighborhoods, East Fourth and on and on. So the experience they have in our city also does play into that," explained Gilbert.

University of Notre Dame and Wichita State University will tip off at 7:15 p.m. Thursday. University of Kentucky and West Virginia University will tip off about 30 minutes after the completion of the first game, which is expected around 9:45 p.m.

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