BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo is gearing up to welcome basketball fans for the NCAA National Championship Tournament.
Two weeks from this weekend is the start of March Madness: college basketball's NCAA tournament.
The Queen City is playing host to several games across the first and second rounds, this year.
KeyBank Center will roll out the hardwood for games, on March 17 and 19. This will be Downtown Buffalo's seventh time hosting the tournament.
The event has potential to be a big boost to the Buffalo economy.
The last time Buffalo hosted the games was in 2017, and it generated $8 million, according to the Visit Buffalo Niagara.
For the first time since 2019, the 2022 NCAA National Championship Tournament is returning without any restrictions. This is also the first time Visit Buffalo Niagara will be welcoming visitors for a big event since the pandemic.
"First of all, we're very fortunate to host it 7 times. There are very few cities that have done that,” Visit Buffalo Niagara vice of sales, Mike Even said. “We're ready. I mean, the city is opened for business and ready to be able to host these groups of people.”
Visit Buffalo Niagara and the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission hosting a zoom conference in preparation for what is the come when Buffalo hosts the first and second rounds of the tournament on March 17 and 19.
Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission director of sports development, Pete Harvey said, “This is a collaboration between Canisius College, Niagara University, the MAC Conference, Pegula Sports and Entertainment, and you guys: the hospitality community. Without any one of those folks on the wheel, it's really not going to happen."
Leaders of these Western New York organizations also stress for local businesses not to reference anything NCAA. This includes any mentioning of bracket updates and tournament names, to avoid trademark infringement.
"The NCAA will send someone into our community. I don't know who that person is. They will stay in our community for the entire time and they will walk around the city,” Harvey said. “I would not post on your social media utilizing those trademarks."
In order to be COVID-19 sensitive, the visiting bureaus will be offering a QR code instead of pamphlets in the hopes of continuing to support local businesses.
"They're going to have these orange signs that you see in this photo here, that say ask me. On the other side, there's going to be a QR code that is going to take them to our website at visitbuffaloniagara.com. It's going to send them to restaurants and area attractions,” Visit Buffalo Niagara & Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission sports service manager, Lauren Vargo said.