Sunday, September 5, 2010

Nashville awarded 3 more SEC men's basketball tournaments

Music City? Make that Roundball City.
Nashville will host eight postseason men's and women's basketball tournaments between now and 2019, including three Southeastern Conference men's tournaments awarded to the city starting in 2015, officials said Friday.

Other newly announced men's tournaments headed this way will be in 2016 and 2019, the Nashville Sports Council said. The city just finished hosting the conference's most recent men's tournament last March.

"Everyone knows we love our music, but we also love our sports," said Brenda Sanderson, owner of four Lower Broadway honky-tonks, which saw sales double and even triple during the most recent SEC Tournament held in the spring at Bridgestone Arena.

Atlanta gets the 2011 and 2014 SEC men's tournaments. New Orleans will host the conference's 2012 men's event. The SEC had previously named Nashville as host of its 2013 men's tournament.

The Bridgestone Arena tournaments are expected to provide an economic boost to hotels and restaurants along West End, near the airport and even as far away as Cool Springs and the southern edge of Sumner County, said Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Depending on which teams make the finals — and the size of their fan bases — the four-day tournaments are expected to deliver an economic impact up to $25 million to the city, Spyridon said. The economic impact of the 2010 tournament was an estimated $18.4 million, with overall tournament attendance approaching 192,000 people.

That kind of impact is about on par with the annual CMA Music Festival, which this June provided a $22 million boost to the city. CMA fans stay
5½ days on average, while basketball fans are in town for four days — but they spend more each of those days, Spyridon said.

"The SEC tournament is always huge, especially when teams like Kentucky and Florida come up here," said Ray Waters, general manager of the Hilton Nashville Downtown. During this year's SEC tournament, the hotel broke its own records in room revenue, as well as food and beverage sales, Waters said.

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