Raleigh, N.C. — The Duke Blue Devils and the UNC Tar Heels could both be playing in Raleigh in March, when the RBC Center hosts games in the first two rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament.
If Duke and UNC earn No. 1 or No. 2 seeds in different regional brackets, both teams could wind up playing their early-round games in Raleigh, said Dick Christy, associate athletics director at North Carolina State University, which would serve as the host school for the tournament games.
"It is possible for both of them to be here. When we thought initially they'd both be (No. 1) seeds, we thought we'd get one or the other. But (NCAA officials) say don't count out that they both could be here," Christy said.
Scott Dupree, sports marketing director for the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau, said Raleigh should see a big economic impact from the games, regardless of who plays at the RBC Center.
"To host the NCAA tournament is a big deal for this area," Dupree said. "We hosted in 2004 for the first time, and the economic impact was about $2.3 million, about 5,000 total hotel-room nights."
The revenue generated by the tournament games is expected to be similar this year, even if the Duke and UNC fans aren't traveling to the Triangle from out of town, Dupree said.
"If anything, it may have a positive impact because of the size of their fan bases," he said.
Some in Raleigh said they hope to make hosting NCAA tournament games a trend.
"The better the event goes this year, the better (chance) we have for future first- and second-rounds and, more importantly, future regionals," Christy said.
The RBC Center isn't considered large enough to host a Final Four, he said.