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Duke, Durham on the Fast Track by Hosting NCAA Championship Events

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DURHAM — Even though football and basketball season are months away, Duke University's athletic department has reason to cheer. The Blue Devils are scoring some big-time athletic events -- a boost to the school and the city of Durham.

This week, Duke is hosting theNCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field ChampionshipsatWallace Wade Stadium. The track meet will bring millions of dollars to Durham's economy, thanks in part to national exposure from Duke basketball.

Future Olympians are drawn to Durham for the NCAA championships and the lure of a big-time college sports program.

"When I found out we were coming here, it was like, 'Wow, we're going to Duke.' I've never been here. I always watch them on TV playing basketball. They're so great, so I'm excited about coming here," says Barbara Szlendakova, an athlete from Iowa State.

"Coach K, he's a legend around here, so it's exciting to come out here and visit this place," says Dwight Phillips, an Arizona State athlete.

Sports fans all over the country know Duke University for its basketball program. That exposure is like a national billboard for the Bull City.

"If you took Duke basketball alone, it would give us 100 hours a year of national billboard publicity, where they're saying Durham, North Carolina and Cameron Indoor Stadium," says Reyn Bowman of theDurham Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The publicity helps attract events like the North Carolina 2-A meet, which will bring 15,000 visitors to Durham.

Bill Bault, from Louisville, Ky., is an official for the NCAA. He brought his wife Kathy along and made a vacation out of the trip.

"I say track and she says mall," says Bault.

City leaders say visitors will spend $3.9 million during the week of the track meet.

Kathy Nault will be one of those spending.

"I'd like to get over the coast, see the university a little bit, and shop," she says.

Durham will host the NCAA Golf Championship next year and the McDonald's All-American High School basketball game.

Community leaders are also working on bringing a Grand Prix International track meet to Durham.


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