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Upstate cities score five NCAA championships

Staff Report //October 16, 2020//

Upstate cities score five NCAA championships

Staff Report //October 16, 2020//

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The National Collegiate Athletic Association made five announcements Wednesday expected to rake in millions of tourism dollars for the Upstate, especially in Greenville, Spartanburg and Gaffney.

For the fifth time since 2017, Greenville will host an NCAA event, following the 2020 Southeastern Conference Women’s Basketball Championships with the 2023 Women’s Regionals and 2026 first and second round championships for the men’s tournament, which are set to occupy the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, according to a news release.  Greenville is also set to host the first and second rounds of the 2022 Men’s NCAA basketball championship, announced in 2017.

The Southern Conference and Furman University will co-host the events after the city was selected out of more than 3,000 bid applications for 86 of the 90 NCAA events. Starting in 2023, eight women’s teams will each compete regionally at two different sites.

“It is an enormous privilege to host NCAA basketball championships, and together with our partners at Southern Conference, Furman University, and VisitGreenvilleSC, we will deliver an incredible experience for student athletes, fans, and NCAA officials, just as we did in 2017,” Beth Paul, general manager of the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, said in the news release.

The two events are expected to bring an $11.6 million in economic spending to the Upstate and 26,000 attendees. This year’s SEC women’s tournament made a $3.1 million economic impact — a lifeline to a tourism industry that was soon to collide with cancelled trips due to COVID-19, according to an original report.

“This marks the fifth time Greenville has been awarded an NCAA event since 2017, and we're ready to ‘run it back’ and do it again,” David Montgomery, vice president of sales of VisitGreenvilleSC, said in the new release. “Bigger. Bolder. Together. Not only are these exciting wins, they're a slam dunk for economic impact.”

NCAA field hockey and cross country teams will also be taking the Spartanburg and Gaffney field during the 2024 Division II Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships, 2024 field hockey championship semifinals and finals and 2025 Division III Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championship Finals, according to a news release.

The 2024 field hockey semifinals and finals, bound for Saints Field at Cherokee County’s Limestone University on Nov. 22-24, will be the first NCAA national championship event hosted in the Gaffney-Spartanburg area, according to the release.

“Limestone University is very excited to partner with OneSpartanburg Inc. to host the 2024 NCAA Division II Field Hockey National Championship,” Mike Cerino, vice president for intercollegiate athletics at Limestone University, said in the release. “This will be a tremendous opportunity to showcase both the city of Spartanburg and the Limestone University campus, and we are looking forward to working with OneSpartanburg Inc. in putting together a quality championship experience for the student-athletes and institutions.”

OneSpartanburg Inc., formerly the Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, submitted 33 bids to draw NCAA events to area.

“These bids have been awarded to Spartanburg because the NCAA recognizes the value that our community represents as a sports destination. The impact of these three awarded bids will welcome thousands of visitors to Spartanburg for the first time, allowing them the opportunity to experience our variety dining options, shopping and attractions,” Timothy Bush, OneSpartanburg Inc.’s new chief tourism development officer, said in the release. “Our focus as an organization will be on delivering a championship experience for both athletes and fans. It will also be important that we reach out and partner with the community to maximize these opportunities for all of Spartanburg.”

Up to 34 teams will stream into Spartanburg on Nov. 9, 2024, for the cross country regional championships followed by 32 teams on Nov. 22, 2025, both hosted at the Roger Milliken Center at Converse College.

“The impact of tourism on Spartanburg’s economy has continued to grow in recent years. The thousands of room nights brought about by these events equate to millions of dollars of economic impact which directly support Spartanburg County jobs,” Allen Smith, president and CEO of OneSpartanburg Inc., said in the release. “Whether it’s the USA Softball Junior Olympic Cup or an NCAA event, our businesses and our community welcome these major events and the positive momentum they bring with them.”