This weekend's Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off is expected to bring $1.2 million in economic activity to the region along with a lot of thrilling basketball action.
The men's college basketball tournament will feature 12 teams, including local favorites UMass, Springfield College and American International College, and national powerhouses such as the University of Southern California and Texas Christian University for 10 games over three days starting at the MassMutual Center on Saturday afternoon.
Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament generates business for Greater Springfield
Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 8:48 PM
SPRINGFIELD - This weekend's Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off is expected to bring $1.2 million in economic activity to the region along with a lot of thrilling basketball action.
The men's college basketball tournament will feature 12 teams, including local favoritesUMass, Springfield College and American International College, and national powerhouses such as the University of Southern California and Texas Christian University for 10 games over three days starting at the MassMutual Center on Saturday afternoon.
"We have a very popular business-person's lunch set for Friday and a banquet Friday evening for the teams," said Greg P. Porcino, director of events and awards for the Hall of Fame. "It's a big event with a lot of logistics."
The weekend replaces the old Tip-Off Classic that featured two teams in a single game played at the start of each college basketball season from 1979 to 2005, when NCAA rules changes made it harder to schedule teams. The new format takes advantage of NCAA rules and allows teams to play four games with them only counting as one game against the maximum number of games a team is allowed to schedule in a season.
"It makes it very attractive for teams to visit, which is why we're getting interest from Southern California and Texas Christian University," Porcino said. "We're already starting to hear from alumni groups on the East Coast."
Porcino said the $1.2 million estimate includes meals, lodging, food, tickets and other incidental expenses for both fans and players.
By comparison, the NCAA Division II men's basketball tournament that has been held at the MassMutual Center each spring for the past five years brings about $1.5 million in economic activity.
Springfield won't host the Division II after 2011 and instead will host the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men's and women's basketball tournaments in March 2012, 2013 and 2014. The 10-school MAAC Conference includes Rider University, Siena College, which is north of Albany, N.Y., and Fairfield University in Connecticut.
"We will have 10 men's teams and 10 women's teams," Porcino said. "That alone is hundreds of room nights before any fans come to town."
He estimated a total economic impact of more than $2 million.
The Hoophall Classic, a high school tournament held each Martin Luther King Day weekend for the past 10 years, attracts 45 high schools from 15 states. The high school tournament has an economic impact of $1 million, he said.
For this weekend's Tip-Off, UMass set up a temporary box office at the Mullins Center in Amherst so fans can buy tickets for the MassMutual Center games, said Timothy J. Kenney, executive associate athletic director. He's hoping to get 4,000 to 5,000 UMass fans in the 7,200-seat MassMutual Center.
"The goal is to get basketball front and center," Kenney said.
William E. Hess Jr., general manager Springfield Mariott, said he expects to be booked up for the weekend. It's a welcome shot of weekend business.
"Fall is a good time for hotels, but it is all business travel," he said. "You need events like this to drive the weekends."
Rudi R. Scherff, managing partner of The Fort and Student Prince Restaurant downtown, said he didn't know how many basketball fans he'll see for meals this weekend. But the old one-game Tip-Off Classic brought in the crowds, he said.
"The other one was more a social event than a basketball game," Scherff said. "You get some extra staff and you get some extra food and you cross you toes and fingers."
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