NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship brings estimated 100k people to New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Jayhawk blue and Tar Heel blue are mixing in the French Quarter as NCAA men’s college basketball’s big dance comes to an end in the Big Easy. The NCAA Championship game takes place Monday night at the Superdome, bringing fans from Kansas and North Carolina to the boot.
Kansas fan David Ho spent the morning strolling the streets and repping his team after making a 13-hour drive for the Final Four.
“I love basketball. I love KU,” Ho said.
He was not too far away from Conner Leeson, a UNC senior who also wanted to see the sights ahead of Monday’s championship game.
“A lot of good memories for Carolina basketball here in New Orleans,” Leeson said.
They are both snapshots of the number of people in town for the festivities. Organizers say they expect more than 100,000 people for the game, music fest, fan fest, and more. A lot of them spent their morning ahead of the championship game at some of the more touristy spots like Cafe du Monde.
Ho says he waited 45 minutes for the famous beignets.
“Ain’t no joke,” Ho said.
City leaders predicted huge crowds months ago, as this is the first Final Four since 2019 without COVID-19 restrictions or cancellations.
It was most noticeable for those who needed last-minute tickets and hotel reservations. Leeson says he has to commute in order to get to the city.
“We couldn’t find lodging down here so we had to stay up in Baton Rouge,” he said.
The success of this weekend is giving the city hope for more frequent Final Four events hosted in New Orleans.
“We are in a bid year. We’re actually looking at things for the next round. This is kind of our dress rehearsals,” Morial Convention Center President Michael Sawaya said.
More frequent Final Fours mean more tourists and more money for local businesses.
“The business this past week has been awesome,” French Quarter artist Carrie Curtis said. “It’s an economic trickle-down that our city needs.”
Following Mardi Gras and Buku Fest, it’s a promising sight to see with Jazz Fest and other events in the near future.
“I’m glad to see the city back open and people enjoying themselves,” Omni Dulin with Morbiin Fine Art said.
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