Photo: Nick Hall Photography

Press Release

News Release
March 18, 2015

David Blandford, Visit Seattle
(206) 461-5806,

Kevin Ticen, Seattle Sports Commission
(206) 461-5803,

Seattle Welcomes the Return of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament This Week

SEATTLE – The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament returns to Seattle after a 10-year absence this week, providing millions of dollars in economic impact to the region and setting up a shot at hosting more regional NCAA rotations in the future.

Civic and tourism leaders hoisted an NCAA flag atop the tournament’s host hotel, the Westin Seattle, this morning as competing teams continue to arrive at eight other Seattle hotels through the today.

More than 14,000 tickets have been sold for the games which happen this Friday through Sunday at KeyArena, roughly half to visitors from outside the area and half to local day attendees. Remaining tickets may be available at the NCAA Ticket Exchange. Additionally, an open practice session on Thursday is open to the public and free of charge.

The championships, which are officially hosted by the University of Washington, were booked by Visit Seattle and its affiliate Seattle Sports Commission in November 2012.

Eight teams, announced last Sunday, will compete in Seattle. Team contingents include players, coaches and others in their travel parties such as collegiate athletic directors and sports administrators. Most arrive today and tomorrow to prepare for games and Seattle’s tourism community will welcome them as they arrive.

Visit Seattle and the Seattle Sports Commission conservatively estimate the total economic impact of the championships to the region to be $7.8 million. That figure includes only the impact of non-local ticket holders (visitors) in spending for lodging, transportation, food and beverage, retail, recreation, space rental and various business services.

More than 7,000 overnight visitors will attend, generating 11,600 hotel room nights. There are eight team hotels, one hotel for officials and the Westin Seattle is the championship headquarters hotel.

“This tournament represents solid incremental economic impact for our region,” said Tom Norwalk, President & CEO of Visit Seattle. “We had the hotel rooms to fill and many restaurants, transportation companies, event venues and other businesses are thrilled to have NCAA in the slower winter season.”

Seattle hosted NCAA Final Four championships in 1984, 1989 and 1995, as well as first and second round tournaments in 1999 and 2004. In 2013, Seattle hosted the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship.

“As one of the great sports destinations in the country, we’re very pleased to have March Madness back in Seattle at KeyArena, where we’ll host Bulldogs, Cardinals, Hawkeyes, Panthers and many more,” said Ralph Morton, Executive Director of the Seattle Sports Commission. “Sports and college basketball are an important part of our culture, so there is a huge amount of excitement in this community about the return of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, as well as the thousands of visitors we’ll be hosting from outside the region.”

About Visit Seattle:

Visit Seattle, a private, nonprofit marketing organization, has served as Seattle/King County’s official destination marketing organization (DMO) for more than 50 years. The goal of these marketing efforts is to enhance the employment opportunities and economic prosperity of the region.

About the Seattle Sports Commission:

The Seattle Sports Commission (SSC), a division of Visit Seattle, is committed to making Seattle a world-class sports community.  Sports can bring the world to Seattle and bring our region together.  A strong sports culture can strengthen local businesses, local kids, and local pride.

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