March 23 2010 | Latest News"March Madness" runs through New Orleans this week and the NCAA college basketball post-season is in bloom at the Arena...
March Madness big in Big Easy
by Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Posted on March 18, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - "March Madness" runs through New Orleans this week and the NCAA college basketball post-season is in bloom at the Arena. Fans are rooting for their teams and taking in what the city has to offer.
"I've never been here before, so I'm excited to see what's here after the hurricane, the rebirth," said one Old Dominion fan.
The Notre Dame faithful left disappointed this afternoon falling to ODU, but last night the French Quarter welcomed the Fighting Irish. "St. Patrick's Day on Bourbon Street...wild, wild," said a Notre Dame fan.
The NCAA's usually mean about $10 million to the local economy. The tournaments attract about 10,000, about the size of a large convention. Local tourism leaders say this year, New Orleans hit it big with the field of teams playing in the tournament here.
"CBS has the live broadcasts of the games, plus four to five hundred members of the media covering this event," said New Orleans Sports Foundation CEO Jay Cicero. "With Kentucky here and with Texas here, Notre Dame, those are media gathering schools and there will be a lot of interest put on New Orleans.
The tournament also keeps the momentum going in an industry which has become the city's economic life-line through tough times.
"What's happening when you have major groups like Orthopedic surgeons who were in here a week ago or the NCAA regionals like we're having right now, it sends messages throughout the country that all the components of New Orleans tourism, the economic driver that is, really it's back," said Steve Perry, President of the Greater New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Local tourism leaders say the NCAA committed to helping New Orleans rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. This is the first of a four year run for the NCAA's post-season basketball tournament.
"We think this is an unprecedented stretch for the NCAA to have four consecutive years in one city," said Perry. "The regionals, the regional finals next year, the men's Final Four in 2012, followed by the women's Final Four in 2013."
"It's a tremendous boost for not only the economy of the city, but the image of the city," said Cicero.