NCAA Tournament’s return to Raleigh has major economic impact

Raleigh last hosted the NCAA Tournament in 2014. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – While much of the focus Wednesday night in the sports world is on the Duke vs. UNC game, the entire region will have the chance to cash in when the NCAA tournament returns to Raleigh next month.

N.C. State and PNC Arena are hosting games on the first weekend of the tournament, which is expected to have a multi-million-dollar economic impact on the Triangle.

One business looking to cash in is the newly opened Mayton Inn on South Academy Street in Cary.

“So, it was a real team effort getting across the finish line. But, we’re there now and we’re really excited,” said co-owner Deanna Crossman. She and her husband, Colin, are living in the hotel as well as running it.

It’s Wake County’s first boutique hotel, she said.

The Crossmans are excited about the opportunity to show off the place just in time for the tournament.

“It’s wonderful. It’s awesome. The timing couldn’t be better for us. It’s a great way to get national exposure inside a month of being open,” she said.

They should have no trouble finding guests who need somewhere to go. According to Expedia, 45 percent of rooms in Raleigh are already booked for the first weekend of the tournament.

“It’s big in terms of economic development,” said Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.

He crunched the numbers from the last time Raleigh hosted the tournament in 2014.

More than 17,000 visitors to the area spent about $4.2 million. Those visitors accounted for 10,105 hotel room stays.

“And, we want our visitors to Raleigh to feel like this is a big deal in our market because it is a big deal,” said Dupree.

Dave Olsen, executive vice president and general manager of PNC Arena, says planning has been underway for nearly a year.

“It’s a big event. The NCAA’s got a manual this thick of things between us and the university we have to do,” said Olsen.

He says only about 20 percent of tickets are left. The arena can hold about 19,700 people during a game.

“We have on two occasions led merchandise sales through the entire tournament on our first and second rounds,” said Olsen.

Dupree said having a local team play in Raleigh could further boost attendance and spending in the region. While it won’t be determined which teams will play in which cities for a few weeks, Dupree pointed out NC State will not play at PNC Arena because a school hosting part of the tournament cannot also play at that location.

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