That’s the projected economic impact the 2013 Final Four will have on Atlanta this weekend. While none of Georgia’s home teams are contending in the Big Dance, the state still has plenty to celebrate with an estimated 100,000 out-of-town guests flocking to its capital. This is the fourth time Atlanta has hosted the NCAA Men’s Final Four, but, as this year marks the 75th anniversary of March Madness, organizers expect the event to draw one of the largest crowds in tournament history.
The Georgia Dome, situated in the heart of downtown Atlanta, offers nearly 75,000 seats to spectators who are paying up to $1600 per ticket. Philips Arena, home to the Atlanta Hawks, will also play host to the Division II and III championships, luring an even wider fan-base. It’s not ticket sales that will be pumping dollars into the city’s bank account, though. Approximately 10,000 hotel rooms will be booked for the weekend, and the fine-dining establishments within driving distance from the Dome are jam-packed with reservations.
Drawing a crowd of this magnitude offers colossal opportunities to increase revenue. Hotels in metro Atlanta are showing spikes in nightly rates anywhere from 55-200 percent. According to atlantahotels.org, a King Room at the downtown Holiday Inn Express typically runs for $139 per night. This weekend, however, guests will pay around $382. The same model room at Hotel Indigo in midtown jumped from $129 to $406− an astounding 215 percent increase.
Though local businesses are certainly taking advantage of the chance to turn sizable profits, the city is not forgetting its dedication to Southern hospitality. The Georgia World Congress Center is offering plenty of fan festivities and Centennial Olympic Park will feature free concerts on Friday and Saturday, headlining artists such as Ludacris, Sting, Muse and the Dave Mathews Band.
In a struggling national economy, we rely on cultural staples to transcend financial strife. College sports will always be among these. While a trip to the Final Four (and especially a national title) will give hundreds of thousands back to coaches, universities, and conferences, the economic value of collegiate athletics can be appreciated across the board. This weekend, Atlanta, Georgia will be the obliged beneficiary.