DAYTON, Ohio, March 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For Dayton, Ohio, and the University of Dayton, March will be about much more than the madness of basketball.
In a span of three weeks, the city and the University will receive national visibility and an economic boost by hosting the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship Road to the Final Four® and two basketball Hall-of-Fame greats, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton.
Event organizers estimate the flurry of high-profile events will pump more than $7.5 million into the local economy, energize basketball fans and solidify the University of Dayton Arena as the most popular arena in the history of NCAA men's basketball tournament games.
"This really is a chance to open the curtain to the area, show our assets and highlight the pride we have in our region," said Jim Leftwich, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition. "And we've found once people come here and see that, they generally want to come back."
And while more than 7,000 tickets have already been sold to the First Four, the event's local organizing committee is on a full-court press with businesses and institutions to build excitement and fill the arena. For First Four tickets, visit http://www.ticketmaster.com.
"This is a historic moment," said Daniel J. Curran, president of the University of Dayton. "With the inaugural game of the First Four, the University of Dayton Arena has now hosted more games than any other venue in NCAA men's basketball tournament history. More than one million fans have attended tournament games in our arena. We promise an outstanding experience for teams, fans and media."
The ball starts bouncing March 14 with the NBA's all-time leading scorer, Abdul-Jabbar, in a look back at basketball history at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 14. Along with other topics, he will discuss his documentary: On the Shoulders of Giants: The Story of the Greatest Basketball Team You Never Heard Of at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Center as part of the University's Diversity Lecture Series. Tickets are $15 and $20 and are available through Ticket Center Stage at http://www.ticketcenterstage.com or 937-228-3630.
Then, on March 15-16, the University of Dayton Arena will make history when it sets a new record as host of more NCAA men's basketball tournament games than any other venue, surpassing a 47-year mark. The First Four is part of the NCAA's first expansion of the Division I Men's Basketball Championship since 2001, and caps a 10-year run for the University of Dayton Arena as the only venue that has hosted opening round games.
Abdul-Jabbar is also planning to attend part of the inaugural First Four.
Ten days later, University of Dayton Arena will host an NCAA Division I women's basketball regional. For tickets, visit http://www.daytonflyers.com and click on the link at the top of the page. All-session tickets include the regional semifinals and final and cost $37 and $22. Tickets for only the semifinals or the final are $21 and $14.
Closing out the month, Walton will deliver a keynote address on leadership and achievement at the University's R.I.S.E. XI Global Investment Forum at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, at the University of Dayton Arena.
"Bill Walton embodies so much of what we hope to inspire in the students and professionals who attend the conference," said Matthew Shank, dean of the School of Business Administration. "He has a zest for life, a passion for excellence and a commitment to giving back to society."
Now in its 11th year, the R.I.S.E. forum has brought thousands of finance professionals, students and faculty to Dayton, boosting the coffers of area hotels and restaurants. For ticket information visit http://www.udayton.edu/business/rise or call 937-229-1444.
"Basketball experts have called UD Arena one of college basketball's best venues, and even said there's no better basketball town in the country than Dayton, Ohio," said Tim Wabler, University of Dayton vice president and director of athletics.
"These two basketball superstars are examples of what college athletics is about. They have achieved greatness on the court, but also have excelled in the classroom and in the community. That's what we emphasize to our student-athletes every day. It's an honor and very fitting that these two gentlemen are visiting one of the great places to watch basketball during a month that everyone is watching college basketball."
In addition to the basketball stars of yesterday and today, the University of Dayton will make room for the basketball stars of tomorrow. Several high school teams will begin tournament runs at the University of Dayton Arena starting at the beginning of the month.
"We'll have University of Dayton Arena ready for all of the events, and we are going to put our best foot forward," said Wabler. "We will reward all of the basketball fans and participants with a quality experience."
SOURCE University of Dayton