Final Four meant big dollars for local economy

April 5, 2011 11:47:48 AM PDT
It appears March Madness was a money-maker for the city of Houston. Local leaders and representatives from the NCAA talked about the Final Four numbers Tuesday morning. It's estimated that out-of-town visitors spent more than $100 million and when you take into account the attendance records, you can see why. More than 75,000 people attended the semifinals, which is higher than the previous record, set in Detroit in 2009.

For the national championship, it was more than 70,000, the third highest attendance ever. And the total Final Four attendance was 145,747, also a new record.

The local organizing committee says more than 80,000 out-of-town fans came in for the Final Four, spending an estimated $105 million. The formula they use is per-person averages for things like food, hotels and transportation.

"It's direct spent dollars here in the local economy," said Executive Director Doug Hall with the local organizing committee. "So again, if you come in from out of town and got a four-night hotel room at $200 per night average, which is kind of the average number, you spend a couple hundred dollars on food and taxis, plus entertainment, it quickly adds up."

"We talk to all of our future hosts about having their own signature influence on this event, so it has local flavor," said Greg Shaheen with the NCAA. "It has regional flavor and it's best designed to capitalize on the strengths of the community and that's clearly what happened here."

The NCAA says the event was practically flawless and they're looking forward to when Houston plays host again in 2016.

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