BOSTON (TheStreet) -- The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is a 67-game ATM not only for its competing schools, but for the host cities lucky enough to get a bit of their fans' ticket, hotel and beer money.
Just last year, the NCAA reached a new 14-year, $10.8 billion television agreement with
Turner Broadcasting to show every game live on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV. In the past 10 years, the tournament has pulled in $4.8 billion in advertising revenue from 281 different sponsors, according to Kantar Media.
While that television money gets split among the schools, the tournament also comes with a built-in stable of well-heeled supporters just looking to plaster some lucky city's billboards with their branding, hold youth clinics and fan parties in local parks and parking lots and take up every available "event space" with parties, functions and other corporate networking disguised as a night at the game. NCAA's nine corporate partners alone include
The Hartford Financial Services Group
, while its three heavy-hitting "Corporate Champions" are
The 14 cities hosting this year's Big Dance are all too aware that they've landed a piece of the second-biggest source of sports playoff revenue in the country -- generating $614 million in ad spending last year compared with the $793 million brought in by the NFL playoffs and the $417 million rung up by the third-place NBA playoffs. If tournament teams are coming to your town, here's some idea what kind of scratch they'll be bringing in once the brackets are scrawled out:
Much like you breathing or the earth rotating, University of Dayton Arena just hosts NCAA basketball tournament games. That's what it does and it'll take something unexpected and catastrophic for that to end. It's hosted 83 tournament games, including every play-in game since the tournament expanded to 65 teams in 2001. Now that it's expanded to 68 teams, Dayton has the high honor of hosting four play-in games, with the four lowest-ranked teams with automatic bids playing each other for games against the tournament's No. 1 seeds and the Dance's four lowliest at-large teams playing each other for the right to play the No. 4 or No. 5 seeds.
The First Four Committee -- made up of officials from Dayton, Montgomery County tourism and the University of Dayton itself -- say the games bring in $3.5 million in revenue and help show off local treasures such as the National Aviation Hall of Fame, Dayton Art Museum and the bars and clubs of the Oregon District. Dayton must be doing a pretty sweet job, as the NCAA's pressed it into play-in duty through 2013 and is letting it host second- and third-round games that same year.
Second and third rounds
Washington; Tuscon, Ariz.; Denver; Tampa, Fla.; Cleveland; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Tulsa, Okla.
In these rounds, each town gets six games apiece and a much bigger slice of the pie. If you're Chicago, Cleveland or Tulsa, it's especially exciting since you've landed early round games featuring the No. 1 seeds. In Tulsa's case, hosting the No. 1 seed in the Southwest is expected to bring the city $13 million in revenue, according to Tulsa Metro Chamber spokeswoman Lisa Frein. With 70,000 to 100,000 total visitors expected to be wearing their school colors in Tulsa during tournament time, Frein says hotel and ticket take could look even more substantial once the brackets are set and rooms are booked.
Tampa tourism spokesman Travis Claytor, meanwhile, says his town expects a similar windfall from hosting midseeded games in the East and South brackets. Claytor says Tampa's expecting the game to eat up 9,000 to 10,000 hotel room nights and bring in $10 million to $15 million.
Anaheim, Calif.; New Orleans; San Antonio; Newark, N.J.
Chaff? Gone. Wheat? Present. Let's make some bread.
The Sweet 16 and Elite 8 produced some of the best upsets of last year's tournament when No. 6 Tennessee knocked off No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 Butler beat No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 Kansas State. That's the kind of excitement Newark is counting on when its new
Center makes its tournament debut this year, with its East Regional matchups expected to bring more than 50,000 visitors to Newark and the surrounding areas.
With three-game tickets going for $198 a pop, there's $10 million coming in before anyone books a room at the Robert Treat Hotel or goes down to the Ironbound for some Brazilian Rodizio. Newark Mayor Cory Booker said the complete windfall would be "hard to calculate" when discussing it with reporters at the Prudential Center last month, but with Newark hotel room demand already up 5% and rates up 4.3% from 2009, according to PKF Hospitality Research, expect that take to double or even triple quickly.
April 2 and 4
With 76,250 seats to fill at
Stadium and 100,000 people coming into town just for the event and the PGA Tour holding its
Houston Open the same weekend in nearby Humble, it's going to get mighty cozy in Houston at the beginning of April.
Greg Ortale, chief executive of the Greater Houston Convention and Business Association, says his group and the NCAA have already reserved 48,000 rooms for tournament guests. Even that may be an underestimate.
"I'm sure there are a number of others being used that we just don't know about," Ortale says. "By our estimate, we estimate direct spend during the tournament -- not counting effect on businesses, etc. -- to be somewhere north of $105 million."
Considering that Robert Beauchamp, chairman and CEO of at
, heads the organizing committee that brought the Final Four to Houston in the first place -- and is bringing it back again in 2016 -- corporate support is well in place. The NCAA's done a little investing of its own by building public basketball courts in Houston, helping food-and-clothing charities in the city such as Feed the Hungry and creating the Final Four legacy program that promises middle schoolers scholarship money and tickets to the 2016 Final Four if they pull grades up and get into a two- or four-year college.
In the short term, however, Houston gets the opportunity to show some buttoned-down middle managers and their vendors a good time by not only taking them to the Final Four, but letting them hang out with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and company in their downtime.
"It's one of the best, if not the best, event for a community," Ortale says. "You've got folks coming in for the two games on Saturday and they've got a lot of free time on their hands to explore and get to know the area."
-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.
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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet.com. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.