Some 400,000 people have been participating in the NCAA’s series of events this past weekend, leading up to tonight’s final game. Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Greg Ortale says thousands are in town who probably haven’t been here recently, taking advantage of the four fan zones.
“To a certain extent, it’s a scientific wild guess. At least 70,000 people were from outside of the Houston area. We know what the minimum hotel expenditure was per night. We know what the average of food was. We do not include the cost of the ticket and we do not include the cost of the airline — projecting a minimum of $100 million in direct expenditure.”
The NCAA’s Jeanne Boyd is part of the organizing team that brings the Final Four to Houston. This is the NCAA’s biggest event of the year.
“It really is. It’s responsible for about 97 or 98 percent of the association’s revenue. There’s a lot of pressure, actually, I mean there’s a lot of pressure and there’s a lot of…”
Ed” “Yeah, to put on a good show.”
“To put on a good show, right, and we simply couldn’t do it without the local organizing committee. I mean the people in Houston have been fantastic.”
Boyd is a native of Spring.
“It’s been a little bit bittersweet for me, because it’s really easy when you go to a city and the Final Four’s really only, you know, your only focus. And so it’s been a little taxing for me, trying to balance my family responsibilities and making sure that they’re all taken care of, ticketwise. And yeah, it’s great, and it’s really special for me, too, and I’m so proud of the City of Houston, because being, you know, from here, there’s a level of cooperation within the city that is just really special and fun and refreshing.”
Ortale says the exposure that Houston receives in hosting a huge sporting event like the Final Four is priceless.
“Having that exposure helps dispell a lot of the misperceptions about Houston, having that many people, having that much media focus. So it really is a great opportunity for our showcase. It’s less about money than it is about community pride. You know, there were literally thousands of volunteers, and those volunteers really executed very well.”
Market Square Park downtown is showing the National Championship on large video screens this evening. Houston last hosted the Final Four in 1971, and will host it again in 2016.