On Monday night, the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four wrapped up in Atlanta with fans leaving behind an estimated $70 million dollar economic impact.
This week, Pittsburgh is hosting the NCAA men’s ice hockey final four, and while it won’t bring in $70 million, it is being seen as a boon for the local economy.
Six years ago Robert Morris University Senior Associate Athletic Director Marty Galosi decided he wanted to host the tournament, known as the Frozen Four, so he put in a bid and started to lobby.
“It's a process like anything else. ... It’s a mater of getting alliances built up,” Galosi said. “You go through the bid process … you make sure you are seen at the Frozen Four, that people know that you are interested, that you network.”
After shaking hands and being seen at several tournaments Galosi was told in the summer of 2010 that Pittsburgh had been chosen to host the 2013 event.
Visit Pittsburgh president Craig Davis said the four-day event is expected to generate a $10 million economic impact for the city. That includes everything from concessions at the arena and sales at local restaurants, parking and hotel bookings.
Visit Pittsburgh already knows of 8,400 room nights generated by the event, but Davis said the actual number will be much higher because not everyone goes through the NCAA or a participating team.
That makes the event the economic equivalent of a large convention, and Davis is pleased with when the tournament is held.
“It’s coming at a time of the year where it is typically not a very busy season for the travel industry, so we get to fill a weekend that would otherwise be difficult to fill,” Davis said.
What cannot be measured is the impact the event will have on the city’s future. Davis hopes fans who have never been in Pittsburgh will spread good stories about the city when they return home.
ESPN broadcasts the games giving the city more exposure, and Visit Pittsburgh will use the successful bid as they try to land similar events through the NCAA, amateur sports or even professional sports.
“This capitalizes on additional hockey related events that have recently come here, " Davis said. "The NHL winter classic back in 2011, the NHL draft in 2001."
Visit Pittsburgh will use those events to tout Pittsburgh as a “sports city” that can handle big events. The Frozen Four will also be used to show off the CONSOL Energy Center, which was an important factor in the NCAA’s decision to come to Pittsburgh, according to a spokesperson for the association.
Galosi is hoping the event will help to put RMU and its young hockey program on the map.