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NCAA tournament a sellout in Greenville

Hospitality and Tourism
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The NCAA has listed tickets for the first and second rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in Greenville as being sold out. Games at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena will start Friday. (Photo/WSPA)The NCAA’s website has said the first and second rounds of its Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament in Greenville are sold out.

The rounds, which start Friday at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, will include North Carolina, Duke, South Carolina, Marquette, Troy, Texas Southern, Arkansas and Seton Hall — representing the South and West Regions of the tournament.

Tourney Time

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament kicks off in Greenville on Friday. With crowds coming from North Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, New Jersey, Texas and Wisconsin to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, it is going to be a packed weekend in Greenville.

Here is the Friday schedule of games in Greenville:

South Region

1:40 p.m. — No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 9 Seton Hall

4 p.m. — No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Texas Southern

West Region

7:20 p.m. — No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Troy

9:50 p.m. — No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 10 Marquette

Can’t make it to the game, or don’t want to fight the crowds? All four Round of 64 games will be televised nationally. The South Region games will be on TNT and West Region games will be on TBS.

If you are planning to go, make sure you already have a ticket and plan on parking. There are options … you can try to find a spot around the arena, but if that doesn’t work, you can park downtown and take the Downtown Trolley.

Drawing North Carolina, the top seed in the South Region, and Duke, the No. 2 seed in the West Region, drove attendance, but adding South Carolina, No. 7 in the West Region, was a nice bonus for Greenville, according to Robin Wright, senior sales manager for YeahThatGreenvilleSC.

“They (the NCAA selection committee) looked at what made sense for travelers and that made sense,” Wright said.

As of Tuesday morning, Greenville was the only first- and second-round host to have sold out. The Midwest Regional semifinals and finals in Kansas City, Mo. have also sold out, according to the NCAA.

The NCAA said its ticket exchange is where fans can buy and sell official tickets online. On that site, tickets for the first session on Friday were starting at $162 per person. Second-session tickets started at $270 and second-round games were starting at $247.50.

Coming off a week during which the city played host to the Southeastern Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament and had the second-highest attendance in the last four years of tournament, Wright said there isn’t much to change for Greenville in terms of preparation for the NCAA tourney.

“We were definitely expecting a much bigger crowd with a sellout and our hotels being full,” Wright said. “When we heard the teams we got and the confirmation from the arena that it is sold out, we decided, like other events, to put the best foot forward.”

Part of that includes the addition of the Greenville Fan Fest. The event, at the corner of Main and Broad in downtown Greenville, kicks off at noon Saturday — the off-day for the tournament in Greenville — and lasts until 5 p.m. According to YeahThatGreenvilleSC’s website, the festival includes full-court basketball, food trucks and other regions' games on live television.

Wright added that most hotels in Greenville are full, or close to being full, heading into the weekend.

“There is a lot of shifting and a lot of people book rooms in each city and cancel the ones that their team isn’t going to,” Wright said. “We are expecting most hotels to be full and all the hotels, restaurants and community is ready. … It’s our time.”

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-235-5677, ext. 107.

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