NCAA Tournament expected to bring $6 million to Columbus economy

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COLUMBUS - Columbus will be a part of March Madness as the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament will be played at Nationwide Arena.

North Carolina, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Iowa, Washington, Utah State, Colgate and Iona are all headed our way along with their fans.

"We expect this event will draw over 25,000 fans to the city generating over $6 million in direct visitor spending into the local community," says Jeremy Leifel Director of Business Development Greater Columbus Sports Commission.

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Columbus is used to hosting NCAA tournament games. The city hosted games in 2004, 2007, 2012, and 2015.

Getting events like this aren't easy as Columbus must compete against larger cities.

"We compete with everybody around us from Louisville to our friends up in Cleveland to Indianapolis, Chicago, Dallas, and Minneapolis," says Leifel.

Restaurants like Bearburger are hoping to see a lot of hungry fans.

"I've had had to add a few more people for this convention season longer hours, more money it puts a strain on everyone," says Manager Scott Voutyras.

Hotels like the Hyatt, which is one of the team hotels, is sold out. The Hilton says it's close to a sellout.

Experience Columbus says 4,000 hotel rooms are sold for the weekend.

The event is a sell-out but there are still tickets to get. An upper bowl seat for all six games will cost about $350, a lower bowl seat for six games is about $450-$475.

"The second session on Friday night seems to be less in demand with the two west coast teams Utah State and Washington, but the early session on Friday the demand is really picking up with Cincinnati just an hour and a half away," says Brian Kaufman of Dream Seats in Grandview.

Four of the eight teams headed to Columbus are within an hour to eight-hour drive away.

That's plays in the tournaments favor as all of the seats in Nationwide arena are expected to be full throughout the weekend.

Fans can watch the teams practice for free on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Nationwide Arena.

The National Championship is April 8 only on 10TV. To view the complete schedule of games, click here.