Basketball fans pump millions into local economy

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville was a big winner after the men's NCAA tournament blew through town last weekend, bringing more than $7 million into the local economy.

DeVino's Deli has been on Main Street about five years, even before there was an arena.

"I've been here longer than everybody on the block," said owner Bridgette Pizzonia.

In those five years, they've never seen anything like they did over the weekend.

"It got to where we didn't have enough food," said Pizzonia. "We were out running, getting the bread people. It was crazy."

Thousands of people packed the streets of downtown Louisville and some even walked across the Second Street Bridge from southern Indiana. There was definitely a theme to the crowd.

"It was very disappointing that virtually nobody from Connecticut showed up," said Jim Wood, president and CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. "BYU had a small crowd. Colorado State had a small crowd. So you lose a little bit from there, but you pick it all up and then some from Kentucky."

Kentucky was everywhere. Fans from The University of Kentucky, Murray State and Western Kentucky University were all in town to cheer on their teams and spend their money.

"A little over $3.1 million spent in the local economy, probably throw in another $4 million spent on ticket sales, revenue inside the arena," said Wood.  "So overall it had a pretty big impact for us in Louisville this year."

It was so successful, even the governor is already setting his sights on future games.

"I've heard NCAA officials were very, very pleased and will even be looking at the Yum! Center in the future for a regional tournament, which would bring even more economic activity into Louisville and the Commonwealth," said Gov. Steve Beshear.

Much of that money is going to local businesses.

"Wall to wall people, just people everywhere having a good time," said Pizzonia. "It was just nice. It was great."

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