Sunday: Tulsa arena set to welcome NCAA Tournament
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Saturday, March 12, 2011
3/12/11 at 4:55 PM
The attention of frenzied college basketball fans across the country will zero in on the BOK Center this week as it hosts second and third rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Tulsa’s arena, opened in August 2008, has hosted 467 events; sold $80.6 million in tickets, concessions and merchandise; and brought in nearly 1.9 million attendees.
But for those who championed the venue’s funding in the Vision 2025 Tulsa County sales-tax package, shepherded it through construction and have worked hard to make it a success — this is the real payoff.
“This is an extraordinary, top-tier event,” said Mike Neal, Tulsa Metro Chamber president and CEO. “It’s March Madness, after all. Short of having a Super Bowl here, which we’ll never have, this is about as good as it gets.”
The NCAA Tournament is supposed to have a “conservative” economic impact of $8 million in Tulsa and draw thousands of out-of-town visitors for the games on Friday and Sunday, he said.
While the BOK Center has hosted several nationally televised events, from bull riding to professional wrestling and other basketball games, it has had nothing of this magnitude, especially over multiple days.
“By far, this will be the most people who will be watching, and we’ll be in the spotlight,” venue general manager John Bolton said.
Read stories, view maps and a seating chart and more about the NCAA Tournament in Sunday's World.
Charles Hedin from Unlimited Sweepers and Cleaners unrolls a banner for the 2011 NCAA basketball championships in downtown Tulsa on Thursday. MATT BARNARD/ Tulsa World