The NCAA’s First Four tournament kick off today at the University of Dayton Arena. The games will open with less fanfare than they did a year ago but there’s still plenty of excitement surrounding them.
Absent this year from the NCAA tournament kickoff is a presidential visit and the big Oregon District street party that began last year, but this year’s First Four event has been sold out since last October. The tournament opening has a significant economic impact for the Dayton area.
Matthew Ferrel is part of this year’s organizing committee. He says, “Last year the economic impact to the Dayton region was somewhere in the neighborhood of four to five million dollars. That was with four games. This year we have 10 nationally televised games, uh, tens and tens of thousands of visitors to the Dayton region, uh, the economic impact is estimated to be in the neighborhood of eight to twelve million dollars.”
Local officials have another goal in mind as the games get underway - keeping the First Four Tournament in Dayton past 2015. The University of Dayton is hoping the NCAA will sign on for another 10 years.
Ferrel believes the city has earned it. He says, “Dayton has obviously proven, the UD staff has proven year in and year out, twenty-eight years now they’ve been a host of the NCAA tournament, a hundred and one games will have been hosted after this week, they’ve proven that they are as good as anybody in the country at running an event with the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and I think our community has shown, you know, it’s sincere about their role as the long term host for the kick-off of March Madness.”
In game one of the tournament North Carolina A&T takes on Liberty. Then in game two, St. Mary's battles Middle Tennessee.