CHICAGO (SCS) — The United Center is hosting the NCAA tournament for the first time in years.
CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek takes us there for all the excitement.
The doors have opened at the United Center for the Sweet 16 matchups. Number one seed Kansas takes on fourth seed Providence, followed by Iowa State and Miami. This is the first time since 2016 that Chicago has hosted a March Madness party and as the city continues to recover from the pandemic, the big dance represents a big opportunity for bars, restaurants, hotels and fans.
“It’s an energy and that energy builds and builds and builds and spreads and everyone is happy again.”
This energy starts with the fans…
“You meet a Jayhawks fan and even if you’re having a bad day, he says ‘yeah!’
And after two pretty bad years in business, Ashley Mixon, manager at Kincade, says watch parties are helping with profitability.
“If it’s really good, like 50,000,” she said.
The same goes for hotels.
“I’ve been through several hotels this week and the level of activity is something I haven’t seen in two years.”
Michael Jacobson of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association said that while Chicago remains last in hotel occupancy in major cities, the numbers have been moving in the right direction – reaching almost 58% capacity the St. Patrick’s week compared to just over 70% in 2019.
“Every week we see the numbers getting better and better, especially as spring approaches, so of course we can’t wait for summer,” he said.
But true ride or die college basketball fans aren’t thinking about summer right now. They savor how sweet it is to dance again.
“We were happy to be in the tournament, let alone win two games, so might as well keep winning,” said Patrick Mueller, Iowa State Alumni Association.
Coming to this stage of the tournament is very nice for Iowa State fans after their Cyclones won just two games last season.