Orlando is considered by many to be one of the premier tourist destinations and with events such as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, it continues to claim one of the premier sports markets.
“We’re one of the greatest sporting cities in the entire country,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said ahead of the first and second round games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament today and Saturday at the Amway Center. “Think of everything we had here [NFL] Pro Bowls on to the US men’s soccer team, which appears to play here every other week. We probably won’t have a Super Bowl, but beyond that, we’re hosting everything in America.”
This is the seventh time Orlando has hosted NCAA tournament games, but the first time since 2017. The city has previously hosted preliminary games in 1993, ’96, ’99, 2004 and ’14.
“This is fantastic,” Dyer said. “One of the reasons we built these venues, particularly the Amway Center, is to host events like March Madness. Having the first and second round – I love that because we have eight teams here. So bringing the NCAA tournament to the best tourist destination in the world is fabulous.”
- Advertisement -
The Greater Orlando Sports Commission has been working to bring the NCAA tournament to Central Florida. The organization has spent countless hours working with representatives from the region to compile bids to host these events along with other NCAA championships.
During the last NCAA bid cycle in 2020, GOSC submitted 68 bids for the championship in 11 different sports across all three divisions.
“We know that some of these projects can take 6, 7, 8 to 10 years,” said Jason Siegel, Commission President and CEO. “We have had some of these offerings in the cycle for three decades. We are entering our 30th year and the NCAA has been a wonderful partner for us.
“They know we’re going to be rolling out the red carpet, and they know their student-athletes are going to have an incredibly positive experience coming here.”
- Advertisement -
While the NCAA has already awarded venues for the next three years, Siegel plans to bid Orlando for the next 2027-30 cycle.
“It will be great for us and important for our community to show up,” he added. “But with the schools coming and the excitement of having these elite programs in town, I know we’re going to have a great performance.”
Attendance shouldn’t be a problem with three top 25 programs in Duke, Virginia and Tennessee here, along with fan bases from San Diego State, Oral Roberts, Louisiana, Furman and the College of Charleston. The last time Orlando hosted tournament games was in 2017, the second and third games combined for 48,214 spectators at Amway.
- Advertisement -
Last season, Duke (5th), Tennessee (6th), and Virginia (22nd) were among the top 25 teams by total attendees.
“It’s so much fun to have all the different fandoms interacting with each other,” Dyer said. “When you have different teams from different regions across the country, there’s not the same kind of hate that there is from teams in the same conference, even though Duke isn’t playing each other in Virginia, but it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Territory leaders expect the Games to have a major economic impact on the region.
“When they were here in 2017, there were 14,000 hotel rooms and more than $14 million in economic activity, so I’m expecting even more this time,” Dyer said.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Matt Murschel [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.