Hoteliers expect basketball tournament to bring March madness

Mark Brownlee
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Hotels in the Ottawa area are expecting a spike in room rentals as university men’s basketball teams from across the country prepare to descend on the region for the national championships in early March.

The Canadian Interuniversity Sport Final 8 tournament will take at Scotiabank Place from March 8-10.

The tournament comes at a great time for the area’s tourism players, said Dick Brown, the executive director of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association.

Spring break for students is over and convention season has yet to kick into high-gear. The event is also on a weekend, which he said is usually a “challenge” in March due to low numbers of leisure travellers.

“We would have substantially fewer visitors on an annual basis” without events like these, said Mr. Brown. “Sports tourism is an area of tremendous growth.”

Mr. Brown estimated each of the out-of-town teams would bring about 200 visitors to the city. There will be six or seven visiting teams depending on whether the University of Ottawa squad qualifies, meaning the teams alone will likely bring in more than 1,000 guests on their own.

He said they’re not sure how many fans will arrive for the event, but estimated each school will attract between 500 and 1,000 people to the city.

The basketball championship is just one of a series of major sporting events the city is going to be hosting. The 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship is also set to take place in Ottawa in early April.

The city has used a substantial amount of its resources on bidding on these sorts of events and using them to drive up the number of tourists in the city since Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson took over in 2010.

Mr. Watson hosted an event featuring several city councillors and media members playing basketball at city hall Friday morning.

Organizations: Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association.Spring, University of Ottawa

Geographic location: Ottawa

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