DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Eight teams from across the country arrived in Dayton Monday for the NCAA Tournament First Four games.
President and CEO of the Dayton Convention and Visitors Bureau Jacquelyn Powell said the CVB and its partners wanted to make it memorable for the arriving players.
“We want them to feel as if their First Four experience here is every bit as great as it is at the Final Four,” Powell said.
For the next two days, college basketball fans will be watching Dayton, which has played host to the First Four for over a decade.
“When the Tuesday and Wednesday night games are on and they’re televised, you know, across the United States, the commentators there, that’s all they talk about is, you know, the First Four is in Dayton, Ohio,” Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge said.
Powell said national spotlight translates into a big boost to the economy for the Miami Valley. The visitors bureau estimates the first four generated $5.2 million in direct spending last year.
“It’s money that those people are spending in our hotels and our restaurants and, you know, at our local nightclubs and for air in and out, all of that helps build the local economy,” Powell said.
The First Four excitement even brought in former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis, who was in town to give a presentation at Sinclair Community College.
“This was always my favorite time of year because I had teams that were either here or the bubble every year, so it’s like I couldn’t wait for Selection Sunday,” Jarvis said.
Over at UD Arena, the teams were getting used to the court during open practice. Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman said the crowds at practice cannot not compare to the crowds at Tuesday and Wednesday’s games.
“Because we’re such a basketball town, we sell out the arena,” Lieberman said. “No one else can do that. Even even when you see the first round, sometimes you’re like, wow, it’s not full, their arenas not full. Well, our arena will be full.”
Open practice continues Tuesday from noon until 3 p.m. at UD Arena, then the first game tips off at 6:40 p.m.