Basketball fans will be coming to Connecticut in March as March Madness comes to Hartford.
Fans will be heading into the city for the four first-round games on Thursday and two second-round games Saturday.
Championship organizers expect the tournament to bring in 25,000 attendees and around $7.7 million for the Greater Hartford region from visitors staying in hotels, going to local restaurants, shopping and enjoy attractions, according to a news release from the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau.
Part of the festivities will include a free all-day Open Practice Event at the XL Center on Wednesday, March 20 for fans to get a sneak peek at the eight teams, which will each have a 30-minute practice time slot.
The Open Practice will also offer lunch and happy hour specials and interactive fan experiences.
If UConn qualifies for the post-season, the team will play at another championship venue.
Many downtown restaurants and bars will offer special discounts and tournament-related promotions and some Hartford Parking Authority and LAZ parking garages and lots will offer a Special Event Parking rate of $10 from March 20 to March 23.
The Dash Shuttle bus in downtown Hartford will operate with extended hours on Wednesday, March 20 and Saturday, March 23.
“Having the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships back in Hartford is not only a win for the XL Center and the City of Hartford, but for the region as a whole,” Michael Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority said in a statement. “Hotels and restaurants from Windsor Locks to Farmington and Rocky Hill will welcome the eight teams and their fans from across the country. We look forward to the tournament’s return.”