"I think it's an exciting time!" City, basketball fans gear up for March Madness in Jacksonville

NCAA is back in Jacksonville for the fourth time at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena!

Visitors and locals are excited for the return of March Madness—and the city is, too!

Action News Jax Courtney Cole explains how the city will benefit from the tournament long after this college basketball tournament is over.

The NCAA tournament is bringing college basketball fans together from all over the nation.

"I've actually never been to a tournament game. This is first tournament game, actually being there. I've always watched March Madness and stuff like that,” said Kofi Mosley-Kellum—a big-time LSU fan.

A lot of those fans will be visiting Jacksonville for the first time, like Zackery Cusimano.

The LSU fan told Action News Jax Courtney Cole he’s excited to be in the River City.

When she asked Cusimano what he was looking forward to doing in Jacksonville, he said: "Just enjoying some good food … Just see the sights have a good time.”

Michael Corrigan, the president of Visit Jacksonville wants to make sure everyone has a good time.

He told Cole they're working to improve the visitor experience, each year they host the big tournament.

"We continue to make enhancements to make the visitors experience better. Obviously, we want them to go to the basketball games— but we want them to stay here the whole weekend and spend money in Jacksonville and help Jacksonville’s economy that way,” Corrigan said.

He went on to say they're expecting to make more than $10M off of basketball fans over the next four days.

Since visitors will be staying throughout the city this weekend. Cole asked if he thinks all of the demolished buildings in Downtown Jacksonville  will discourage people from coming back.

“In order to make progress, you have to tear something down to make progress.  I think when the visitors see cranes on the riverfront and see the various different construction projects, they understand, 'I'm going to have a great experience while I'm here today, but when I come back to next time, there's going to be even more for me to see,” said Corrigan.

The Tourist Development Council is working to get a breakdown of which parts of town visitors are spending their money most—during the tournament.

When we have that data, we’ll share it with you on-air and on-line, here on our website.


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