March 31, 2017

Episode 131: 'Cats are Out, But will Tucson Benefit from the Final Four?

UA was knocked out of NCAA tournament, but economic impact of 'mega-event' may reach Tucson.

The national collegiate basketball championship will be held in Glendale this weekend, and while Tucson residents may still be smarting from when top contender University of Arizona was eliminated from the tournament, economists predict the Final Four will generate $200,000 of revenue for the region.

  • 2017 is the third consecutive year Phoenix has hosted a sports-entertainment “mega-event,” following the Super Bowl and the College Football Championship. University of Arizona Eller College of Management professor Ricardo Valerdi says host cities risk losing money and prestige if the event does not live up to expectations.

  • Only a handful of American cities are part of an elite group that can host events that require thousands of hotel rooms and a 65,000-seat main venue. The city must also host sideline events, which draw tens of thousands of visitors who do not have game tickets, but will spend more than $500 daily on restaurants, lodging and transportation. Phoenix Local Organizing Committee CEO Dawn Rogersadds that the NCAA is also targeting a struggling neighborhood for improvement ahead of the championship.

  • NCAA games are played on Saturday and Monday, and fans from UA rivals Gonzaga University and the University of Oregon could include a stop in Tucson as part of their weekend itinerary. Inside Tucson Business writer Brad Allis thinks it could ease the financial disappointment from the Wildcats’ failure to reach the Phoenix Final Four.

  • Tucson sportswriter and historian Steve Rivera looks back at the Wildcats’ 1997 NCAA championship, and predicts the university could repeat its best-known athletic accomplishment soon.

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