March Madness has arrived in the Motor City, and with it comes an immense amount of civic pride. As Little Caesars Arena is transformed into an NCAA tournament venue, organizers are primed to show off Detroit to the rest of the country.
“Why wouldn’t you want to be in Detroit for a big event?” asked Detroit Sports Commission director Chris Smith. “Especially sports. This is a sports hungry community. There’s no question that it belonged here.”
The Detroit Sports Commission is working with University of Detroit and Olympia Entertainment, getting ready to host first and second round games at Little Caesars Arena Friday and Sunday. It’s huge for the city.
“This weekend we’re expecting a $6.5 million economic impact. That includes people staying at hotels, eating the restaurants, drinking in bars.”
It's also a big deal for the school.
“Schools don’t get to do this very often. This only happens about every four years because everybody is putting in bids. And to actually get a bid for a school like Detroit Mercy…it’s huge for us,” said University of Detroit Mercy’s athletic director Robert Vowels.
While the city of Detroit will obviously be on display, so will another local product: The court itself.
“This court is manufactured in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and it’s produced for the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament. So it’s made in Michigan, and the timber is from Michigan, so every game that Michigan and Michigan State play on as far as they advance will be played on a ‘Made in Michigan’ court,” explained Kurt Kosmowski from Connor Sports.
Another local-ish product on display? The Michigan State Spartans.
“Michigan State being placed here is significant. We would have been happy with Michigan as well. But I have to tell you when we did see Michigan State roll across that board, our room just kind of…we all just looked around at each other like ‘There we go!’ Ya, this place is going to be rocking," said Smith.