February 13, 2019

Hartford expects $7.7M ‘March Madness’ windfall

Photo | Contributed
Photo | Contributed
Hartford's XL Center during a UConn men's basketball game.

About 25,000 fans will descend on Hartford's XL Center in late March for first- and second-rounds of the 2019 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, giving an estimated $7.7 million shot to the area economy.

Eight teams will visit Hartford for four first-round games on Thursday, March 21, with the winners advancing to second-round play on Saturday, March 23, tournament organizers say. Two teams will advance to the next round of NCAA tournament play the following weekend.

Hartford last hosted the college men's hoops tournament in 1998 at then Hartford Civic Center.

Teams chosen to play in the first and second rounds will be announced during CBS Sports' "Selection Sunday" on Sunday, March 17.

The day before first-round action, the XL Center will open its doors March 20 so fans can attend a day-long "open practice'' in which each of the eight qualifiers will have 30 minutes of practice time on the XL Center court, according to organizers.

As the institutional host, if UConn qualifies for the post-season, the team would play at another championship venue.

Certain Hartford Park Authority and LAZ Parking garages and surface lots will offer $10 parking from March 20-23, authorities said. Also, The Dash Shuttle, CT Transit's free circulator bus in downtown Hartford, will run extended hours during tournament play on Thursday and Saturday.

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