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Restaurant owners say NCAA Tourney a success for the city

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The excitement over the NCAA Tournament in Milwaukee has tempered a bit, but it's expected to rise again as we approach Wisconsin's appearance in the Sweet 16. The NCAA Tournament being hosted at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee was expected to bring in millions of dollars -- a big boost to Milwaukee's economy. Now that the tournament has moved out, we check in with Milwaukee business owners.

The NCAA Tournament brings more than just basketball. For Milwaukee hotels, restaurants and bars, the Tourney brought money.

Jon Boles is part of the ownership team of Ugly's Pub -- located on Old World Third Street in downtown Milwaukee.

"I wish we had this every single weekend," Boles said.

Boles said his bar was a sea of red on Saturday night -- as the Wisconsin Badgers faced off with the Oregon Ducks.

"There was a lot of red. It was filled with Madison fans. After we won, it hit capacity in all three floors. It was pretty, pretty intense!" Boles said.

In fact, Boles says the bar was at capacity throughout the week!

"We were slammed -- at capacity the entire week. Sales were through the roof," Boles said.

Omar Shaikh with the SURG Restaurant Group that includes Umami Moto and Carnevor on Milwaukee Street among other places says his businesses thrived while the Tourney was in town.

"There was so much energy downtown and in all the places. It felt great. I think it's just great for all of our restaurants. It's great for the city. It's great for the hotels. Just overall it has a huge tourism impact," Shaikh said.

That's why VISIT Milwaukee helped to bring the event to the city, according to the organization's vice president of sales, marketing and communications Bret Foerster.

"Everything I'm hearing from the restaurants, hotels, even the Bradley Center and their ticket sales, this event not only met the expectation, it surpassed it -- so, we're excited. It's huge. I mean it's huge for the NCAA to come into the city, but it's also huge for the Bradley Center to stay here in this community as well," Foerster said.

The experience seemed to be even better with Wisconsin in the field of eight.

"We were overjoyed to see it happened and even more-so to see them win," Foerster said.

2 comments

  • Nichole

    I didn’t make ONE DIME off of the playoffs, and I’ll be you didn’t, either! So… who made all this “supposed” money? Sounds like another fictional story about some who balanced a budget that really didn’t.

  • DJ

    NCAA brought over 5 million dollars worth of sales to Milwaukee this weekend…. You obviously weren’t doing something right to bring in the business! Sorry for your loss Nichole!

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