March Madness is upon us. And the cities hosting some of the NCAA Tournament Games are in celebration mode. 

Yes, it’s exciting to be involved in the annual college basketball tournament. But that’s not the only reason city leaders are pumped. 

It has a lot to do with what the tournament is bringing to these metros—namely basketball fans from all over—along with the money they spend at local stadiums, hotels, restaurants, and bars, among other local businesses.

We’ve rounded up a handful of articles detailing how March Madness could benefit five U.S. cities in particular. 

Read on for the highlights. 

Boston, MA

According to an article in WBUR (Boston’s NPR), city leaders are looking forward to hosting three NCAA Playoff games—the East region’s Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds—at TD Garden. In particular, city dwellers are anticipating the following benefits of being part of March Madness for the first time since 2018:

  • Hotel rooms: Thousands of March Madness fans, including college students, booked rooms close to the stadium or near enough to be within easy driving distance. 
  • Bars and restaurants (with TVs) filled with paying basketball fans both local and visiting 
  • Ticket buyers will pay a hefty price for the in-person experience, with nosebleed seats starting at over $400

All told, city officials expect around $18 million in revenue from the event.

Charlotte, NC

Charlotte is poised to benefit in a big way from hosting two days of the NCAA Tournament games.

And while local basketball fans are excited to see their teams compete, City Council Mayor Pro Tem Dante Anderson is focused on the significant economic boost the games will generate for Charlotte’s economy. Anderson expects around $10 million in revenue over the four days. 

That revenue will come from a variety of sources, including: 

  • Ticket sales—Fans both local and visiting who physically attend the games will contribute directly through their ticket purchases.
  • Hospitality–Teams and fans filling the city means increased hotel stays, restaurant visits, and bar patronage. 

Aside from the short-term benefits, the NCAA Playoffs contribute to the Queen City’s growing reputation as a major sporting destination, making new opportunities to host  national sporting events more likely. 

I’m looking forward to a dynamic environment uptown, a very vibrant situation for Charlotte residents, and, more importantly, all the visitors that are coming to Charlotte.

The success of us executing well with the NCAA Tournament, that also affords the opportunity for us to win other college games. The success of the city executing on something like an NCAA tournament will really pay dividends if we do it well… And that will just open the door for other opportunities for Charlotte to host major sporting events.

Dante Anderson

Charlotte City Council Mayor Pro Tem

Manhattan, NY

The City of Manhattan hosted the opening rounds of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament last weekend. And while major sporting events are not new to the city, government and industry leaders expected a tournament of this size to deliver a substantial economic boost. 

Revenue came from the usual sources: 

  • Buying tickets for the games
  • Spending money in restaurants and shops
  • Booking rooms at local hotels

From Visit Manhattan Director Marcia Rozell:

“Having those fans come in, the economic impact that it will have as they spend money in our restaurants…They buy fan-based products, you know, whether they’re cheering on the Cats or their own team, they’re going to be coming in and purchasing things.”

City leaders didn’t put a number to the anticipated amount of revenue from March Madness, but they’re looking beyond the event to future opportunities to welcome out-of-towners who have had a taste of Manhattan’s charms while visiting for a sporting event.

Memphis, TN

Memphis tourism anticipates over $5.7 million in revenue from March Madness. On Friday, March 22, the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament tipped off, marking the city’s first time hosting tournament games since 2017. 

Eight Division One college basketball programs and their fans came to fill Memphis’s FedExForum, driving up ticket sales as well as demand for refreshments. 

Revenue from the event comes largely from hotel bookings, and fans exploring local attractions:

  • The NCAA booked 6,500 total room nights across 10 Memphis hotels for teams, officials, family and fans. 
  • City of Memphis leaders expected at least 20,000 people to come for the tournament over the weekend, and most, if not all, will be eager to explore the city’s hospitality industry when not watching the games. 

From Memphis Tourism president Kevin Kane:

“Area restaurants have been stocking up to feed as many hungry college basketball fans as possible… 

“They’ll be back in years to come. Memphis is on (the NCAA’s) radars and they love coming here. But there’s a lot of cities in America that would love to host and that have never had the chance.” 

With safety as the number one priority, Mayor Paul Young said there would be extra Memphis Police officers and Blue Suede Brigade members patrolling the area for the duration of the tournament.    

Indianapolis, IN

Madison County officials expect great things from the NCAA Tournament’s return to Indianapolis on Friday, March 22, as tens of thousands of fans flooded into the area for a total of six games scheduled for two sessions Friday and one session Sunday at Gainsbridge Fieldhouse. 

Tourism officials for the city projected a direct economic boost of roughly $14 million over the March 22–24 weekend, mainly from—

  • Ticket sales—with all three sessions nearly sold out before Selection Sunday
  • Hotel bookings—close to the action as well as near I-69; fans from Midwest schools (which may be seeded in the Indianapolis part of the bracket) may choose more out-of-the-way hotels to avoid the downtown traffic
  • Sports betting—another potential source of economic activity. According to Forbes, an estimated $15.5 billion in wagers was placed on last year’s NCAA Tournament. 

Wichita Falls, TX

For business owners in the City of Wichita Falls, TX, the annual NCAA Tournament brought a substantial increase in foot traffic to their businesses when March Madness officially tipped off.

City officials haven’t weighed in yet on the economic impact, local eateries and watering holes like Parkway Grill and the Wichita Falls Brewing Company get to experience the annual chaos first-hand as fans flood in to cheer on their favorite teams. 

So, even cities not hosting NCAA teams and their tens of thousands of fans can see some financial benefit, especially for local businesses equipped with big TVs and good food and drink. 

And as business owners can tell you, it takes some preparation. Wichita Fall Brewing Company Bartender, Sarah May Greer, had this to say: 

“I think every year we get a little bit more foot traffic coming once people realize that we show the games and we have the games on TV and we have multiple TVs.

“Sports events are definitely key for economic growth. It’s definitely an exciting time of the year. You do get more regulars during that, so people who are typically at home they like to come out and socialize.”