(Memphis) The announcement that Memphis will host the American Athletic Conference in 2014 is big for basketball fans, but it will also mean a boon for the City of Memphis when March rolls around.
It’s expected to draw at least 20,000 people from all across the country and will also likely bring millions of dollars into town.
“That’s a big, big thing, not only for this university, but a big thing for the city,” said University of Memphis Basketball Coach Josh Pastner.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Malvin Gipson, who is with the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Ten teams are in the new conference. Five cities bid for the tournament, including Atlanta, but the University of Memphis Athletic Director convinced coaches that Memphis is the right place for the games, just like it was for years with Conference USA.
“The University of Memphis and my staff put together the bid,” said Tom Bowen.
That winning bid is going to bring in big bucks to Memphis as restaurants, hotels and attractions all fill-up the week of March 12, 2014.
“And that`s exactly what we are looking for,” said Gipson.
“What Tom Bowen did to get that together is not easy,” said Pastner.
“You got Louisville coming back in, you`ve got Cincinnati, you got Memphis with other teams coming in as well,” said Gipson.
Each team is going to bring along thousands of fans a piece, which will make places like Wet Willies, a favorite for the college crowd, jump.
“When the Tigers play, we get even more customers in than we do with the Grizzlies,” said Rudy Carter, who works at Wet Willie’s
“Because they are more of the partiers?” asked reporter Sabrina Hall.
“Exactly,” said Carter.
Organizers say there is also a good chance that Memphis will host the tournament again in 2015 as well. They have to work around the Grizzlies schedule at the FedEx Forum.