Downtown Louisville prepares to serve thousands of basketball fans

Economic impact is predicted to be somewhere around $15 million.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 4:46 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2023 at 4:49 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - For downtown Louisville, hosting the NCAA Men’s South Regional is a little like an early taste of Derby. Hotels jump up to 75 to 80 percent occupancy and watering holes, like O’Shea’s, are packed to the rafters for days.

“It’s actually really fun to work that day,” O’Shea’s Jess Sheppard said. “It’s a sea of people all day.”

Economic impact is predicted to be somewhere around $15 million. It is a figure that benefits from the way the games are scheduled.

There are two games Friday night and one game on Sunday at KFC Yum! Center. That means fans have all day Saturday to enjoy the city.

“This is exactly what we want. We want something that keeps people in town,” Zack Davis, Louisville Tourism VP of Destination Services said. “And so they come in for the event on Friday and have two days to come out and experience the city. We’ve actually already talked to several attractions. Louisville Slugger is seeing an uptick in ticket sales. And the restaurants are going to see people out and about because they really don’t have anything to do between one game and the next.”

On Wednesday, we found businesses on Whiskey Row preparing for a big weekend. A block away from the Yum Center, a rooftop party is planned at the Moxy.

“We’ve got TVs that will be up here and broadcasting all the games,” Katie Stoppert, Moxie Captain, said. “Tito’s is going to partner with us and we’re going to have a Tito’s cocktail menu.”

Across the street, more of the same. The Corner Restaurant is counting on food, games and a partnership with Jim Beam to make a lasting impression.

“This weekend we’ll see a lot of high energy, camaraderie amongst four teams and their fans,” Corner General Manager Nick Whittington said. “Got some Cinderellas in the group. A lot of people coming into town that were excited to serve.”

Louisville Tourism predicts 20,000 fans will be in town for the three-day weekend.