DENVER (KDVR) — College basketball fans from across the country will be focused on Denver Friday when Ball Arena will host four games in the first round of the men’s NCAA tournament.
Eight teams will play on Friday. The remaining four will play again Sunday. All six games are sold out.
“It helps drive economic activity and it really creates a vibrant atmosphere that shows people all there is to love about downtown Denver,” said Kate Barton, with the Downtown Denver Partnership.
The games are expected to draw in both local fans and visitors from other states.
“We decided to make the trip from Dallas to come and watch because both teams were playing here,” Texas Christian University fan Abbie Kinney said.
“We came out to spring break to go skiing, and we’re spending a day or two in Denver and found out they’re practicing, so we’re gonna go in here and check it out, see who’s playing,” Clark Little said.
The games in Denver are expected to inject $4 million to $8 million into the local economy.
“One of the things that is so powerful about having these big events is that everyone benefits. It’s really a rising tide,” Barton said. “We see people enjoying our restaurants and bars, going out to shop.”
Basketball bar in Centennial geared up for NCAA games
The economic impact may extend well beyond Denver’s city limits.
“Sure it’s fun, it’s exciting to be downtown and things like that, but we’re right here,” Matt Barnett said.
Barnett played basketball for Colorado State University in the 1990s and is now co-owner of the Basketball Social House in Centennial.
“When you’re out in the parking lot, you’re like, OK, they’re in a strip mall. But then you walk in and you’re like, OK, this could be in a warehouse down in RiNo,” he said.
The Basketball Social House is a restaurant and bar with a full-size basketball court inside, plus a custom 3-on-3 court and other hoops to shoot.
“It’s one of those things you’ve got to come and experience it,” Barnett said.
They will be hosting special events for March Madness, including shooting contests, giveaways and a VIP experience.
“We have the wall of hoops and we have the full court with some shooting machines on it, so everyone’s gonna be able to do all kinds of things,” he said. “We’re gonna have all kinds of shooting contests, all kinds of things for kids to come over here.”
Barnett said he is hoping Denver’s connection to the tournament will bring a boost to businesses across the region.
“I think having games for March Madness here in Denver heightens everybody’s awareness a little bit and kind of just gets them a little more excited,” he said.