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Road To Final Four Expected To Put Raleigh In Spotlight

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The road to the Final Four is not all fun and games. Raleigh officials are ready for one of the premiere sporting events in the country -- the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

The excitement of NCAA March Madness will fill the arena Thursday and Saturday. A local organizing committee led by host university N.C. State has been working a year to make it happen -- everything from arranging hotels for players and fans to transportation and booklets that officials could not ship out until Sunday.

The NCAA comes on the heels of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament, which brought 24 teams and 100,000 fans to Raleigh for a week's worth of activities.

The CIAA generated $11.5 million for the local economy. The NCAA is not expected to bring in nearly that amount, possibly $2 million to $3 million.

Officials are also banking on the national exposure that the tournament will bring.

"We're going to have six games televised nationally on CBS, which is 12 hours of national TV," said Scott Dupree, of the Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It really puts Raleigh front and center as a great place to bring your sporting event and it's also great visibility for the RBC Center as a marquis area that's capable of hosting top-of-the-line events like the NCAA Tournament."

Raleigh has already put in a bid to have the NCAA tournament return in 2007 or 2008. Tickets for the first and second rounds of the 2004 NCAA Tournament went on sale last summer and sold out about six weeks ago.


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