Cleveland gears up for big week of sports led by MAC Basketball Tournament

CLEVELAND - If you're downtown Wednesday through Saturday of this week you will see them. Packs of people decked out in team colors representing most of the Mid-American Conference teams taking part in this weeks annual MAC Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament.

"It's really exciting, the energy is awesome down here, it's really our favorite week," said Caitlin Cassidy manager of Harry Buffalo which serves as a home base for a lot of the teams coming into town.

"We have a giant space upstairs, so we're going to have Toledo here this weekend, we have Buffalo alumni, we also have Western Michigan here so it's going to be an exciting place to be," said Cassidy.

Across the street the folks at Flannery's agree. "You get that collegiate feel," said Flannery's manager Patrick Scullen. "You come in and you get the big pep teams come in they come marching through the restaurant it's just really fun to be a part of it," he said.

"It's like St. Patrick's Day all week long with us so it's awesome."

It's awesome as well for downtown hotels as many of those visitors make a mini-vacation out of their stay.

"Last year's tournament had a $14.5 million economic impact on Cleveland and Northeast Ohio," said MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher. "So it should give some indication of the number of people that come in are spending their money not only going to the games, going to the restaurants going to shops."

And the Horseshoe Casino as well, March was the casino's best month last year fueled in part by the MAC and St. Patrick's Day.

As big as the MAC is, it's just one of three championships taking place in Northeast Ohio this week. The NCAA Division II Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Championships run Wednesday through Saturday at SPIRE Institute in Geneva while the Division II Wrestling National Championships will take place at Cleveland's Public Hall on Friday and Saturday.

"It's Really unique for a city to be hosting three championships like this in one weekend so its fantastic," said Jeff Pacini, Vice President of Business Development for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.

All of these events bring athletes and their families to Cleveland, many of them for the first time.

"Ideally we're going to leave with a lot of ambassadors really supporting and saying all the great things we know are going on in Cleveland," said Pacini.

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