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Women’s NCAA basketball scores big for Tucson economy

$1.3 Million estimated impact
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Posted at 4:47 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 19:47:59-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Bringing two games of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament to Tucson will score some big bucks for the local economy.

When the NCAA brings tournament games to your town, it is far from a drop in the bucket.

As sports marketing director for Visit Tucson Nick Pazzi knows the economic scorecard of sports. He expects the spending connected to the teams, coaches, staff, bands and cheerleaders to top $1.3 Million dollars.

“But then you've got the fans, the boosters and the family of the women athletes that are coming to play here," Pazzi said. "You know they're going to come here, they're going to travel here. So we'd like to think that in addition to the hotels, the resorts that are going to get the business, these people are going to go out to the restaurants, maybe if they have time to go to Pima and Space Museum, Sonoran Desert Museum. They’re going to see some of our attractions.”

The Marriott University Park Hotel expects an extra $75,000 from tournament visitors—from room rental, catering and regular meals.

Even without the tournament, the Marriott was already busy with families and high school students visiting University of Arizona so the students can decide if they want to attend.

The NCAA business was a last minute gift, since Tucson was not officially chosen as a Women’s tournament site until last Sunday.

Jill Nghiem is General Manager of the Marriott:

“We were excited. It’s great for the City of Tucson and the University and we just sort of scrambled to put our team together to figure out how we can support it. We were very excited.”

And tourism boosters say having the tournament here could build business as visitors, and a big TV audience, sample Tucson and decide it’s a great place to go.

Visit Tucson says sports-related travel was one of the first types of travel to bounce back from COVID because sports lovers are so dedicated to their sports and to the teams they follow.

Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 30 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.