St. Patrick's Day and college basketball to give economic boost to downtown businesses

CLEVELAND - Some positive economic news is on the horizon for Cleveland thanks to college basketeball and a little luck of the Irish.

After celebrating Saint Patrick's Day on Thursday, the city will host NCAA tournament games Friday and Sunday. Both events will provide a much-needed economic boost for downtown businesses.

The kegs were lined by the patio with care at Flannery's, an Irish pub at the corner of Prospect Avenue and East Fourth Street.

"It's a very fun madhouse in here on Saint Patty's Day. But now the influx of new business from out of town for the NCAA tournament, we think it's just going to be amazing all weekend long," said Flannery' manager Sean O'Donnell.

The big dance may very well be an Irish jig for downtown bars, restaurants and hotels. By itself, the NCAA tournament at The Q is expected to pump $10 to $12 million into the local economy.

Throw in the lucky charm of number one seed Ohio State playing Cleveland plus the excitement of Saint Patrick's Day and it could mean a virtual pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

"Each individually adds such a level of excitement to the community put it together and it's just tremendous econimically. It's tremendous for downtown," said David Gilbert of The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.

The Cleveland State University men's basketball team could sweeten the pot. They play the University of Vermont Tuesday in the opening round of the National Invitational Tournament.

Not bad for a city on the rebound.

"It's not like we've had the best press... especially with the LeBron thing happening. I think the city needs something to feel good about again and the NCAA's going to really be a shot in the arm for us," said O'Donnell.

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