(Memphis) For the next few days, Memphis and the FedExForum will be the epicenter for college basketball fans like Dennis Becker. He’s traveled here to support his Cincinnati Bearcats.
“Memphis has everything you look for in a host city: an arena next to entertainment, in walking distance of hotels,” Becker said.
The Bluff City is playing host to the inaugural American Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament.
Thousands have traveled here, including Jack Martin and Mark Altom, to see teams such as Memphis, U-Conn, SMU, Cincinnati, Houston, Central Florida, South Florida, Temple, Rutgers, and defending champions Louisville, and to take in Memphis tourist attractions.
“We came here last fall and scoped out the city and we know where we are going to eat and drink all week,” Martin said.
“I think Memphis is a great city. We just came from the National Civil Rights Museum, which is very moving,” Altom said.
Andre Hill lives here in Memphis and says he’ll be supporting his University of Memphis Tigers.
“I had a good friend of mine send me a ticket to come down here and check these guys out and have some fun and enjoy basketball,” Hill said.
Inside the Gibson Guitar Factory, many had basketball fever at the AAC Conference Awards Luncheon, and it was done with a Memphis music flare featuring the Queen of Beale Street, Miss Ruby Wilson.
Mayor A C Wharton said, “This is the basketball city in the country. This is Hoop Town and its in the right place.”
AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said Memphis offered all the right things for a successful tournament.
“They offered us a state of the art arena, a wonderful destination in a great city and a passionate fan base for basketball,” Aresco said.
The FedExForum will also have five Top 25 teams playing in the same tournament.
Memphis Tigers Basketball Coach Josh Pastner said the competition will be fierce.
“This is our inaugural conference in this city with what I think is the best conference in the country. So, let’s pack the forum out, especially when Memphis plays,” Pastner said.
It also means 15,000 fans will be packing Memphis hotels and restaurants.
Kevin Kane is president and CEO of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“We’re in a sold out situation. The hotels are filled from one end to another and it’s about $15 million to the local economy. We are very blessed and fortunate that Memphis was chosen,” Kane said.
The AAC Tournament: an economic slam dunk for Memphis and a win for basketball fans such as Dennis Becker.
“It’s a great place for a tournament.” Becker said.