Tulsa mayor aims for national 'buzz' over tournament
BY MICHAEL OVERALL World Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
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Trading his usual shirt and tie Monday for a bright-blue "Tulsan" T-shirt, Mayor Dewey Bartlett welcomed the NCAA Tournament as a chance to create a national "buzz" for the city.
Between 70,000 and 100,000 tourists will visit downtown Tulsa this weekend to see early rounds of the men's college basketball championships, officials estimate.
"They're going to discover that Tulsa is a friendly and energetic city," the mayor said. "And they will want to come back again."
Color-coded shuttle buses will help those out-of-town guests explore the city, with "blue" shuttles looping through downtown and "red" ones venturing out to Cherry Street and Brookside.
The mayor previewed the downtown route Monday afternoon, riding a Greyhound bus from the BOK Center to Boston Avenue, then swinging through the Blue Dome area and the Brady District before circling back to the BOK.
Modeled by the mayor and a few other local officials Monday, the blue "Tulsan" T-shirts will become ubiquitous around downtown this weekend to make local volunteers easy to find. "If you have a question," Bartlett said, "ask anyone in a blue shirt."
In drawing his own bracket to predict the tournament's outcome, Bartlett stuck close to the top seeds, calling for a Final Four of Ohio State, UConn, Pittsburgh and Kansas.
Ohio State and Kansas will play in the final game, with Kansas coming out on top, Bartlett said.
In contrast, executive director Ray Hoyt of the Tulsa Sports Commission leaned heavily in favor of the Big East.
His bracket, unveiled alongside the mayor's during a Monday afternoon press conference, had North Carolina, UConn, Louisville and Pittsburgh reaching the Final Four.
Hoyt predicts UConn will win it all, despite admittedly being a sleeper this year.
"Either way, it's going to be a great tournament," Hoyt said, "no matter who wins or loses."
Original Print Headline: Touting Tulsa for visitors
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Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett (left) and Ray Hoyt, director of the Tulsa Sports Commission, reveal their NCAA Tournament brackets Monday at the BOK Center. Bartlett and Hoyt made a $100 bet on the game, with the winnings going to charity. ADAM WISNESKI / Tulsa World
Tulsa Sports Commission executive director Ray Hoyt shows off his Tulsan T-shirt at a press conference Monday. ADAM WISNESKI / Tulsa World