Durham, N.C. — The Duke Blue Devils brought a lot more home than a trophy Monday. Officials say their trip to the Final Four generated media attention all over the country for the university and the city of Durham.
“Duke and Durham, those two names go together. When Duke wins a national championship, they really promote the brand of Durham,” said Shelly Green, president of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.
There is no way to know just how many people may visit the area because of the attention paid to the basketball program, but officials say this is the kind of coverage that can put the idea in people’s minds.
“That becomes part of the decision-making process when people decide where they want to go to visit,” Green said.
Last year when the University of North Carolina Tar Heels won the title, tourism officials in Chapel Hill said business went up around downtown as people traveled to buy memorabilia like T-shirts.
“That was great. That lasted for a week or two. We saw a really big bump,” said Adam Klein, vice president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce.
Athletic success can also have positive effects for the region.
“It reminds people that this a thriving region with great sports teams and great universities and I think that’s real positive,” Klein said.
Green said a win for one Triangle team is a boon for the state and its other Atlantic Coast Conference teams.
“I think it brings great recognition to the North Carolina brand,” she said.
UNC and Duke University officials say they don't think the extra attention increases applications because there are many factors that cause more people to apply to each school.
Mike Cragg, director of the Duke Legacy Fund, said the win creates fund-raising opportunities that could help meet the university’s needs across the campus.
Cragg said the fund boasts 33 business partners and has raised more than $50 million since it started back in 2000.
“It’s that relationship that fellowship and having fun altogether watching a great event, watching a great achievement, being proud of a great institution, that leads to great gifts,” he said.
Cragg said the fund’s goal is to fully endow the university’s basketball program, which would take between $75 and $100 million.
Currently, 11 of the 13 basketball scholarships are fully endowed, along with about three other positions with the team.
Jenifer Niedel and her husband both graduated from Duke. With championship gear in hand on Wednesday they said they are thinking about shelling out even more for their alma mater.
“We may find that we’ll open our checkbooks a little more this year,” Niedel said.
More than 20,000 championship t-shirts were sold, according to officials on Tuesday. Duke retailers said they fielded about 50,000 online orders for championship merchandise.
“It’s a huge spike for Duke Stores in sales. It has been a slow year so this was very welcomed to save our year too,” general manager Bob Walker said.
The championship has also helped create more business for a Raleigh screen printing shop.
Dynagraphics, located along Corporation Parkway, is producing the official Duke National Championship shirt, company officials said Wednesday.
The shirts, which feature the championship ring, the Blue Devil logo and the final score, can be purchased at Duke’s campus bookstore.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” owner Steve Knight said. “The school will benefit, the fans will get their collector’s T, and best of all, I’ll keep my machines running.”