TAMPA, Fla. - With joint efforts of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, Tampa Bay & Company, St. Pete Times Forum, University of South Florida and several other community partners, the Tampa Bay area has been able to thrive in the tourism industry over the last 24 months of NCAA March Madness. This annual, month-long period in sports brought national attention and economic success to the Tampa Bay community through events it served host to such as the 2007 Men’s ACC Basketball Tournament, 2008 NCAA Men’s 1st/2nd Rounds, 2008 NCAA Women’s Final Four, and 2009 Men’s SEC Basketball Tournament.
2007 ACC Basketball Tournament
Making its first visit ever trip to the state of Florida, the 2007 Men’s ACC Basketball Tournament was a tremendous esoteric and economic success to the Tampa Bay area. More than 22,000 visitors emerged upon Tampa Bay to watch the North Carolina Tar Heels take home the tournament championship over the North Carolina State Wolfpack 89-80. Several downtown restaurants reported a 75 percent increase in revenue and downtown hotels were sold out months in advance. Numerous successful highlights were events such as “ACC FanFest”, “Tournament Tailgate”, “University Day”, “Legends Brunch”, and “Channelside Courtside Party Zone”.
2008 NCAA 1st/2nd Rounds
On March 21-23, Tampa Bay welcomed back the NCAA First and Second Rounds. The Tampa Bay community managed to be a continuous highlight for the “madness” as it hosted some of the tournament’s most exciting games and was associated with headlining nicknames such as “Tampa Turmoil” and “Upset City”. In the first day of action Villanova upset Clemson, Siena upset Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky upset Drake, and San Diego upset Connecticut. On the second day Villanova went on to beat Siena, and Western Kentucky defeated San Diego.
2008 Women’s Final Four
On April 6-8, for the first time in the history of the Championship, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four came to the sunshine state. The Tampa Bay area hosted the semifinals and finals, and crowned the University of Tennessee the National Champion. An estimated 22,595 visitors came to the area and saw the Lady Vols take home their eighth national championship after defeating Stanford 64-48. The event accounted for approximately 13,000 room nights and $19,114,228 million in economic impact. Highlights of the tournament and related activities included the four team “Pep Rally in Channelside Bay Plaza”, “4Kay Run”, “Bounce by the Bay”, “Hoop City”, and the “WBCA High School All-Star game”.
2009 Men’s SEC Basketball Tournament
The exciting games, the local hospitality, and four days of beautiful weather helped to make the 2009 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament a huge success in its first trip to Florida since 1990. SEC alumni and fans brought their passion for basketball, food, and partying. The downtown area found itself jam-packed with those in town to watch basketball and frequent some of Tampa’s hotspots. Fans were treated to an upset in the final game as three-seed Mississippi State defeated top-seeded Tennessee.
The success continues as Tampa will see the NCAA Women’s Final Four return in 2015. The NCAA Women’s committee cited Tampa’s successful presentation of the 2008 Women’s Final Four as the key. The event was widely praised by NCAA administrators for its organization and hospitality. When evaluating prospective host cities, the committee reviewed each city’s competition venue, convention center, hotel community, transportation plans, legacy programs and financial commitment, as well as the community’s and prospective host institution/conference’s overall commitment to the event.
“This decision validates a lot of what was accomplished over the last few years,” said Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. “This is a tremendous event, both economically and socially, and we’re very excited to be hosting it a second time.”