NCAA tournament brings excited fans and a boost to Milwaukee businesses

NOW: NCAA tournament brings excited fans and a boost to Milwaukee businesses

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- March Madness has all eyes on Milwaukee. College basketball fans are excited to root for their teams and the city is looking forward to the boost in tourism.

Visit Milwaukee expects more than 18,000 people to flock to the city for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Badgers fans have already landed in town and are ready to cheer for their team.

"We are just so excited. We are ready to be roudy for Madison," said Henry Cooper, UW-Madison Junior. Local say all the NCAA buss is just what the city needs right now. "It's a great economic boost to Milwaukee, especially coming out of COVID like we are. It's huge," said Dan Long, a college basketball fan from Racine.

Visit Milwaukee officials say the games are expected to drive an economic boost of around $6.5 million. "Given what has happened with the pandemic, this is an important boost for Milwaukee and for really the greater Milwaukee area. We are bringing visitors into the city and they are going to be spending their money here, visiting attractions, restaurants, bars, staying at our hotels," said Lindsey McKee, Communications Manager for Visit Milwaukee.

Hotels are already seeing a big boost, including the locations where NCAA teams are staying. The Westin Milwaukee Downtown is hosting the Badgers this week. The team arrived Wednesday night. "Everybody loves the Badgers. We're bleeding red here in the hotel," said Kyle Highberg, Westin Milwaukee General Manager.

Highberg says his staff has been preparing for the team's arrival and they've already seen a boost in business. "As soon as people found out we were hosting the team we got a lot of pick up from people just in the immediate area wanting to either see or stay here," he said.

Visit Milwaukee says at least 5,000 hotel rooms across the city are booked for the weekend.

"This is just phenomenal for the city. Very important after the last couple of years that we've had," said Highberg.

More fans are expected to arrive in town Friday.

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