March 10, 2004
By Chris Walsh, Rocky Mountain News
Three big tournaments, two big weeks for tourism,
one big dose of March Madness.
Thousands of fans from around Colorado and nearby
states will pack Denver for the women's and men's Mountain West
Conference basketball tournaments, which start today and Thursday,
Add to that the first two regional rounds of the National
Collegiate Athletic Association men's basketball tournament next
week, and it's a great time to be a Denver business catering to
the college basketball crowd.
"It's just going to be crazy," said Chris Walker,
general manager of Brooklyn's bar, located next to the Pepsi Center,
where the events will be held. "There will be 16,000 to 17,000 people
next door, many of them tourists. You let them out, and where are
they going to go? We're anticipating being busy the whole time."
Area hotels, restaurants and other business expect
to receive a financial boost during a typically slow period for
The tournaments include afternoon breaks, during which
thousands of out-of-towners will walk or hop a bus to downtown Denver.
And many fans will hit the bars after the games.
Businesses say they are ready for the onslaught of
basketball fans with drink specials, extra workers and extended
"We certainly anticipate a nice uptick in our business,"
said Brian Hanover, regional manager of ESPN Zone, which has a location
on the 16th Street Mall.
The restaurant/sports entertainment mecca plans to
stay open two extra hours tonight and Thursday night to accommodate
The combination of college basketball events in Denver
this time of year is rare.
The Mountain West Conference typically holds its championship
tournament in Las Vegas but moved it here this year because Denver
is a more neutral site for the teams involved.
NCAA tournament rounds jump to different cities each
year. So landing both in the same month is a coup for Denver, tourism
leaders said. And it's not just bars, restaurants and hotels that
Two Colorado companies that specialize in photos and
footage from college sports games also see a boost this time of
Rich Clarkson & Associates shoots photos of NCAA tournaments,
among other sporting events, and then sells them to newspapers,
magazines and other publications; Denver- based Thought Equity
provides a database of video clips of NCAA games, along with other
types of footage, for use in commercials, films, TV shows and other
Aside from the direct financial benefit, the events
could bring dividends to Denver down the road.
They'll help Denver, recently named the top sports
city in the country by Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal
, attract more big sporting events.
And visitors who like what they see of Denver might
"It's a great opportunity to showcase Denver and the
state of Colorado," said Rob Perl- man, president of Colorado Ski
Country USA and a member of the state's tourism board.
"We should take every opportunity to promote ourselves,
to put our best foot forward."
Mountian News Online Article
walshc@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-2744