Downtown Madison bars, restaurants ready for busy basketball weekend
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The madness is here, and Badgers fans still have the opportunity to watch the men’s basketball team compete in March. Although they are not in the Big Dance, there is a bright spot from the Badgers not making the NCAA Tournament: extra business for downtown Madison bars and restaurants.
The Badgers’ National Invitation Tournament game against the Liberty Flames on Sunday is in addition to an already jam-packed weekend that includes St. Patrick’s Day and the WIAA State Boys Basketball Tournament.
“Sometimes it rains, it pours,” Nitty Gritty food and beverage coordinator Michael Leto said. “It’s like one day after another.”
A couple of extra busy days in March is welcomed by Leto.
“This time of the year is is really the last push for a lot of downtown bars and restaurants,” Leto said. “For us, it’s good to have the extra basketball games to give us one last push.”
Rob Gard, the communications director for Destination Madison, said the boys high school state basketball tournament alone generates up to $3 million during the weekend. The Badgers NIT game on Sunday will only add to that number.
“To get a little extra cash flow and a little extra fun happening in the city, it kind of is like the spring bloom of activity here for our restaurants or bars,” Gard said. “It’ll be a wild time, a fun time.”
If the No. 2 Badgers win against the Flames in the second round, they’ll host the third round matchup next week if the University of Central Florida Knights beat the No. 1 Oregon Ducks.
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