FURMAN UNIVERSITY + MARCH MADNESS = BIG WIN FOR GREENVILLE
March Madness, the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament and nation’s most high profile collegiate sporting event, has found a home in Greenville, South Carolina, thanks to Furman University and Paladin Athletics.
Furman recently joined with the Southern Conference in co-hosting its third NCAA Men’s Tournament first and second round games (Mar. 18-20) at downtown’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena. By every measure the returns underline the tremendous impact and visibility such a premier event means to Greenville, recently rated the No. 4 fastest growing city in America and No. 1 on Southern Living’s South’s Best Cities On The Rise 2022.
According to figures compiled by VistGreenvilleSC, the City and County of Greenville’s official sales and marketing organization, the tournament generated over $10 million in economic impact, covering business sales (lodging, transportation, food & beverage, etc.) and personal income, while adding approximately $125,000 in revenue to the local tax digest.
“Furman University was honored to serve as a co-host for the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, along with our partners at the Southern Conference, Bon Secours Wellness Arena, and VisitGreenvilleSC,” said Furman Director of Athletics Jason Donnelly. “The economic impact and visibility for Greenville was second to none as we hosted some of the nation’s top men’s basketball programs. We are thankful for our hard working staff and many volunteers who made the experience a success and look forward to hosting the NCAA Tournament again in 2023 and 2026.”
The first of the eight host cities to sell out its first and second round games, Greenville registered a draw of over 80,000 fans for its six contests that featured Duke, Michigan State, Auburn, Miami, Southern California, Davidson, Cal State Fullerton and Jacksonville State. Duke, which defeated Michigan State, 85-76, in front of a television audience of 11.22 million to hand coach Mike Krzyzewski his 1,200th head coaching victory and advance to the Sweet 16, faces ACC rival North Carolina in Saturday’s Final Four semifinal.
Successful NCAA Tournament basketball is nothing new to Greenville, which hosted the event for the first time in 2002 at the BSW Arena. It returned with great fanfare in 2017 when Furman and the SoCon again combined to co-host a field of eight teams that included eventual national champion North Carolina.
Furman and the SoCon were days away from co-hosting the 2020 NCAA Women’s Tournament first & second rounds before it was canceled due to the worldwide pandemic. The women’s tournament is scheduled to return in 2023 when BSW Arena will serve as the venue for NCAA Regional play, and in 2026 the men’s tournament comes back to Greenville for first and second around action, co-hosted by Furman and the SoCon.
Central to Greenville securing high profile tournament games is Furman, which meets the NCAA requirement of a Division I school or conference to host the event. Paladin Athletics takes great pride in what Duke Hall of Fame mentor Mike Krzyzewski said following his Blue Devils’ latest trip to Greenville:
“This city is lights out, with their hospitality and the people. Obviously, we’ve enjoyed it because we’ve won, but we were really treated well here.”