Hoops and Heritage: MAC Tournament & St. Patrick's Day equals big weekend for downtown Cleveland

CLEVELAND - Downtown Cleveland is gearing up for a huge weekend fueled by the MAC Basketball tournament through Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena and leading into St. Patrick's Day on Sunday.

Last year's parade drew an estimated 500,000 people downtown. The holiday fell on a Saturday where the temperature climbed to a record 77 degrees.

While the MAC draws daily numbers a fraction of that, it's impact is strong.

"We wait all year for the MAC Tournament," said Caitlin Cassidy, general manager of the Harry Buffalo.

The bar and restaurant sits in the shadow of Quicken Loans Arena and remains busy throughout the four-day tournament because the 14 games are spread out with start times between noon and 9 p.m.

"The energy down here is so high because all of the schools come in and there all together and the cheerleaders and the bands come in and play and it's awesome," Cassidy said.

The weekend though only gets busier as the tournament wraps up Saturday leading into the biggest party day of the year Sunday, St. Patrick's Day.

Last year, 500,000 people came down for the parade, enticed by a record high temperature of 77 degrees. This year's expected high is around 40 degrees cooler.

This will be the first St. Patrick's Day for the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland.

"Half million people coming downtown, we're very much excited to take on the crowds," said Horseshoe Marketing Director Noah Hirsch.

"Anytime after an Indians game, after a Cavs game, after a big concert we have large crowds so we're definitely ready for it," he said.

"We will be fully staffed and ready to go, full table spread meaning all of our table games will be open and ready we have plenty of people in our cashier cages."

The casino will also have a buffet featuring Irish dishes and Irish beer specials at its bars.

If you're heading down to the parade, note the start this year will be 2:04 p.m. on Sunday, an hour later to accommodate those attending Sunday church services.

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