March Madness Boosts Businesses Across U.S. Cities

Sports & Social is Washington, D.C.’s newest sports-viewing location on a strip on U-street. The company has various locations across cities in the U.S., reeling in economic impacts from the March Madness tournament. (Mekala Seme, HU News Service)

By Mekala Seme

On April 8th, the University of Connecticut’s men’s basketball team won the NCAA Championship against Purdue University at the State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona.

The championship game marked the end of the annual March Madness tournament, a popular time for basketball fans nationwide that boosts economic activity for cities.

Sports & Social, a popular sports tavern with classic games and live entertainment, has locations across the United States and is experiencing increased foot traffic as a result of the tournament.

Since early March, the Sports & Social location in Arundel Mills, MD, has seen significant increases in sales as fans came together to watch both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments. 

According to Robert Midyette, Vice President of Food & Beverage for Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland, March Madness heavily impacts operations at Sports & Social Maryland  and plays a key role in their annual budget. 

“On Thursday, March 21, our sales increased 96% over our eight-week average,” said Midyette. “On Friday, March 22, sales increased 302% over our eight-week average.”

According to Midyette, the Maryland location ramped up staffing and supplies ahead of the Final Four tournaments and championship game in anticipation of substantial sales increases resulting from the NCAA tournament. 

The sports bar hosted contests like Pop-A-Shot, where guests could enter a mini-basketball tournament for a chance to win a trip to Vegas.

The location offers fans a variety of unique viewing options and allows them to enter a $1 million prize giveaway if they produce a perfect tournament bracket.

The final four matchup and championship game occurred this year at the State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona. This year’s tournament provided businesses in downtown Phoenix with d an opportunity to benefit from extra tourists. 

Visit Phoenix, a non-profit organization that promotes tourism in the Phoenix area, partnered with Downtown Phoenix Inc., the city’s business and entertainment district, to create a Downtown Phoenix Fan Guide

The fan guide highlighted events, deals, and activations around downtown Phoenix during the Final Four and championship games.

Additionally, Eric Kerr, the company’s vice president of insights and development, states the guide provides fans and event attendees with valuable information on parking and public transportation options. 

The guide also served as a tool for highlighting local businesses and offering additional options for fans seeking activities downtown.

The organization expected the Final Four and championship game to impact businesses in the area significantly.  

“​​We anticipate increased hotel and vacation rental demand during the tournament,” said Kerr. “Downtown Phoenix hotel occupancy will surpass 90% during the weekend from visiting fans.”

According to Kerr, “fan events in downtown Phoenix such as the Men’s Final Four Fan Fest, Final Four Dribble and March Madness Musical Festival will increase foot traffic and visitation to downtown Phoenix from locals and visitors from the morning into the late evening”.

Events such as the Men’s Final Four Fan Fest, Final Four Dribble and March Madness Musical Festival brought increased foot traffic and visitation in downtown Phoenix from locals and visitors from morning to late evening, according to Kerr.

Kerr believes that the rise in hotel demand and events in the area created opportunities for local businesses to see an increase in spending during the Final Four weekend.

“These fans will be looking to dine, shop retail, and experience what the destination has to offer,” he said.

“Some locals might be experiencing the new downtown Phoenix restaurants and breweries for the first time and could return in the future. Providing a great experience for these visitors could encourage future visitation from locals and visitors alike,” Kerr continued.

David Wossen, a Colorado native and Georgetown University senior,  believes local bars and restaurants with March Madness viewing options created memorable experiences for him and his friends. 

“This year’s tournament offered so many opportunities for my friends and I to be able to spend our last few months together supporting our favorite teams and businesses at the same time,” he Wossen said. 

Wossen cherishes the moments he’s able to support businesses that played a big part in his journey throughout college. As a frequent customer, he’s cultivated friendships with the staff at his favorite local restaurant.

“It’s been fun to compare my bracket picks with some of my favorite servers,” said Wossen. “I’m glad to feel a part of a community outside of my normal circle and bubble, and these restaurants and bars make it possible.”