Memphis gets rave reviews as host city for NCAA tournament game

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - North Carolina may have won big in the NCAA tournament's Southeast regional, but many are saying the Bluff City also came out as a winner while hosting the event this weekend.

Fans from four of the biggest basketball programs in the country have spent the weekend in Memphis.

While one fan base left FedExForum a little bit happier than the rest on Sunday, downtown businesses are smiling after the excellent Elite 8 economy boost.

On Sunday the band was a little bit louder, the face paint a little bit more bright, as North Carolina fans sent their team off to the Elite 8 from the Peabody.

"We couldn't ask for a better city, we hope we can come back to Memphis!" said UNC fan Ronnie Smith.

"Eating some good BBQ, just enjoyed some of the sights, and came to the hotel here and saw the ducks in the fountain so we had a really good time," said Tim Reid, a Tar Heel fan from Franklin, Tennessee.

Over at Handy Park the Kentucky crowds were a little bigger. The fans, young and old, a little bit more excited – not even pregnancy could stop one woman!

"We're going to win, I feel it. The baby feels it!" said Sarah Howard, who is 34 weeks pregnant.

"Oh it's a great city. I love Beale Street, the atmosphere is great," said Kentucky fan Keith Gabbard.

The big winner even before the game was the city of Memphis: 12,000 fans from all over the country filled downtown hotels this weekend and after spending their money, they made their way on a picture perfect day to FedExForum.

"This is basketball Mecca today in the United States!" said Kevin Kane, President of Memphis Convention and Tourism Bureau.

Kane said $5 million is being pumped into the local economy on what is normally a slow weekend.

"This is the third time we've hosted the South region; this is by far the strongest yet," Kane said.

After the game, UNC fans left a little better than Kentucky fans, but it seems fans from both sides enjoyed their visit to the Bluff City.

"I love Memphis! Memphis is a great city!" said Kentucky fan Charlie Sciantarelli.

"I had a good time! Hey, I came, boy won Friday, but hey we can't win them all," said Kentucky fan Jamie Howard from Louisville.

"Memphis is a great city, Carolina got the dub in Memphis! We're on the way to Zona baby!" said UNC fan Tyrone Bragg.

Sunday night, 16,400 fans filled the Forum and many fans after the game called it the best Regional they've ever been to.

Kane said that the City of Memphis has great standing with the NCAA and we may get another tournament Regional as soon as 2019.

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