With a national title up for grabs, NCAA lacrosse fans from all over the region have come to East Hartford this weekend. While Connecticut may not have a team in the tournament, the state could still be a winner.
Inside Rentschler Field Saturday, North Carolina, Duke, Maryland and Virginia battled for a berth in Monday’s NCAA Men’s National title game.
To witness that, fans spent a little money, and not just for the ticket.
“I have family who came in from North Carolina and they flew here on a plane. Then took a ferry in from Long Island, and are staying at a hotel,” said Kayla Gillule, who lives in New York and has a relative on the Duke coaching staff.
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As fans attend, Connecticut’s economy could benefit. Hartford’s Residence Inn is among hotels that are filling up, and for the first time in over a year, is at 100% capacity.
“This is a really good impact for our hotel,” said hotel staff member Kyle Wyatt. “We can get our employees back and it’s a really good thing.”
The Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau estimates the tournament will bring $4.3 million to the business community and $154,000 in sales tax.
“Extremely great event, large event for the state. People are going to be out staying at hotels, going to restaurants, going to attractions,” said Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau President Bob Murdock.
Among those benefiting is a local Hartford based BBQ restaurant. The Portly Pig was hired to cater a 400-person tailgate worth $8,000 in revenue.
“That profit is going to go toward helping pay for employees and helping pay off the debts we incurred during Covid,” said Portly Pig restaurant owner Jonathan Shivick.
There is also the stadium itself. A place that has been very quiet for some time was once again vibrant and doing business.
“We’ve come here today to spend on souvenirs and for lots of food for our boys,” said Laura Brown of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey.
This comes less than two weeks after the state lifted its business restrictions. Good timing, according to Murdock.
“There’s definitely a pent-up demand, I mean we’ve seen that across the board, not just from the Lacrosse Nationals but for other sports,” he said.
The tournament continues Sunday with the Division II and III title games. The national championship is Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. between Maryland and Virginia.