IHSA ‘March Madness’ is a slam dunk for local businesses

By Alyssa Donovan

IHSA ‘March Madness’ is a slam dunk for local businesses

March 8, 2013 Updated Mar 8, 2013 at 6:56 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill.-- The Illinois High School Association March Madness brings big business to Peoria.

The annual high school boys' basketball tournament, March Madness, is bringing thousands of fans to the area over the next two weekends.
This weekend are the 1A and 2A games, which are the smaller schools... But Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau President Don Welch says these schools often have the bigger fan clubs.

Welch said, "The small schools tend to bring everyone in the community to support it."

Between players, cheerleaders and all of their fans, the state finals are expected to bring 60,000 people to the Peoria area over the next two weekends.

And all those fans need a place to stay and a place to eat.
5,000 area hotel rooms are expected to be booked during these next two weekends, and local restaurants are preparing for a big boost in business.

Owner of the Locker Room Bar and Grill, Tara Panek said, "This is one of our top weekends of the year so I would say sales almost double sometimes."

And that spike in sales is not just for the restaurants...
Welch says the economic impact of this tournament is very important to local businesses.

Welch said, "We estimate that based upon an average expenditure for not only hotel, restaurant, shopping and automobile expenses that we're probably looking close to $1.7 million in economic impact, direct economic impact to the area."

And all that business is a slam dunk in Peoria.

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