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Raleigh Hopes to Score Big With NCAA Tournament

Posted March 20, 2008
Updated March 21, 2008

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— Raleigh will be in the national spotlight this weekend as it hosts the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Eight teams will compete. Only two will make it to the end.

"You can make the case that it's the second-largest, most popular sporting event in America behind the Super Bowl,” said Scott Dupree, sports marketing director for the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Hotels will be packed with players and fans. Visitors are expected to spend an estimated $4 million in Raleigh. In anticipation, city officials are pulling out all the stops in hopes of getting a second-round bid for the tournament farther down one of the "Road to the Final Four" routes.

“The better we do the job hosting in 2008, the better the chances are to put in a successful bid and bring this tournament back in 2011 or 12,” Dupree said.

The city has hosted the first-round NCAA twice before, the last time in 2004 at the RBC Center. But the lack of entertainment and hotels around the RBC Center may hurt the city's chances for another replay. In the meantime, though, other areas are hoping to cash in.

"The fact that it isn't there right now benefits properties in the downtown area, in the Crabtree area and other parts of Wake County for this particular tournament,” said Jim Hobbs, the director of the Hospitality Alliance of North Carolina.

Raleigh lost the CIAA tournament to Charlotte two years ago because the Queen City appeared to have more to offer.

Raleigh also lost the MEAC season-ender. A contract dispute has the tournament going elsewhere next year.

In an effort to help visiting basketball fans get the most out of Raleigh, the 2008 Raleigh Local Organizing Committee came up with the Raleigh Roundball Road Show. It takes fans to 10 sports bars to watch tournament games live when they're not at the RBC Center. It also lists attractions and provides a calendar of events for tournament-goers.

WRAL and Time Warner Cable will broadcast every NCAA game.

North Carolina, the top seed in the East, faces Mount St. Mary’s Friday at 7:10 p.m. in the RBC Center.


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  • cecillll Mar 20, 2008

    "The tournament action in Raleigh begins Thursday as Georgia faces Xavier at 12:10 p.m."

    Seriously?? Nice work WRAL.

  • colliedave Mar 20, 2008

    They didn't spend our money upgrading the VIP restaurant so that the fat cats can eat at a nearby Applebees.

    Those who are there on business expense accounts - yes, life IS unfair - want to eat at an upscale place. It is those with money that provide jobs for the people who work at the RBC resturant. The concessions provide jobs and also provide a way for booster clubs to make money for their organization.

  • foetine Mar 20, 2008

    the RBC Center doesn't want restaurants around the building because they want you to eat inside. They didn't spend our money upgrading the VIP restaurant so that the fat cats can eat at a nearby Applebees.

  • colliedave Mar 20, 2008

    Why don't they offer free city bus trips to downtown and Crabtree round the clock during large events like this?

    Who is they? And don't you know NOTHING comes for free? Unless one is a lib, and then the governmment pays for everything. Right?

  • RaleighRocks Mar 20, 2008


    You are right on. Leaving a Panthers game is a nightmare. I have had no problems getting in and out of the RBC lot. It has always been easy as pie. When I was in Charlotte for the NCAA's a few years back, it took us forever to get anywhere. Granted, it could be better at the RBC, but just where would you build these businesses? I have no issues with going out to eat somewhere, and driving to the game. Everybody wants something other than what they have.

  • SheriffTruman Mar 20, 2008

    I have been to a fair number of arenas and would say that inside, the RBC is certainly nice enoungh to be considered in the top level and is better designed than most. My only fault is with its location.

  • chance Mar 20, 2008

    Hey ... here's a novel idea that would solve all the problems of the RBC Center. Why don't they offer free city bus trips to downtown and Crabtree round the clock during large events like this?

    As far as traffic/location ... I would prefer the RBC Center to remain exactly where it is in that aspect. I have never had more than a couple minute wait to get into the RBC Center/Carter Finley Stadium and I've been going to hockey and football games there for years. Has anyone ever tried entering an arena that is located in a downtown area? Talk about MAJOR traffic back-ups and congestion.

  • colliedave Mar 20, 2008

    it's just not nearly as nice as other venues. Think of how much of Charlotte's coverage dealt with that stupid train arriving at their venue. We have $8 parking.

    **WRONG** When I was back in Tampa for new nephew's baby dedication, I went to the St. Pete Times Forum to the the Bolts play the Caps. The arena is dark, dirty, and dreary even though it is a few years older than the RBC Center.

    Because it is directly downtown, parking is a zoo. And parking is $25.

  • colliedave Mar 20, 2008

    hotels should have been built around RBC years ago, restaurants should have been built by the RBC center years ago,

    Since you want it so much, why don't you go, get a bank loan, and build what you want! Or, do you want the government to do it for you!

  • froggytroat Mar 20, 2008

    What stupid planning. That's what they get for putting that stupid convention center there, in the middle of nowhere. Guess the Army surplus store at the fairgrounds might get some traffic, but where the heck are people going to go eat?

    How do they expect to compete with places that are downtown, with shops, restaurants, and hotels around?

    That was quite simply a stupid planning decision.