With a national title up for grabs, NCAA lacrosse fans from across the region came to East Hartford this weekend. While Connecticut may not have a team in the tournament, the state could still be a winner.
Inside Rentschler Field on Saturday, North Carolina, Duke, Maryland and Virginia battled for a spot in Monday’s NCAA Men’s National Title game.
To attest to this, the fans spent a little bit of money, and not just on the ticket.
“I have family who came from North Carolina and flew here. Then I took a ferry from Long Island, and stayed in a hotel, ”said Kayla Gillule, who lives in New York City and has a parent on the Duke coaching staff.
While fans attend, the Connecticut economy could benefit. Hartford’s Residence Inn is one of the hotels that is filling up and, for the first time in over a year, is at 100% capacity.
“This is a very good impact for our hotel,” said Kyle Wyatt, hotel staff member. “We can get our employees back and that’s a really good thing.”
The Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau estimates that the tournament will bring in $ 4.3 million to the business community and $ 154,000 in sales tax.
“An extremely formidable event, a great event for the State. People are going to stay in hotels, go to restaurants, visit attractions, ”said Bob Murdock, president of the Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau.
Among those that benefit is a local Hartford-based barbecue restaurant. The Portly Pig was hired to supply a 400-person tailgate worth $ 8,000 in revenue.
“This profit will be used to help pay employees and repay debts we incurred during Covid,” said Jonathan Shivick, owner of Portly Pig restaurant.
There is also the stadium itself. A place that had been very quiet for a while was once again bustling and doing business.
“We came here today to buy souvenirs and lots of food for our boys,” said Laura Brown of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey.
It comes less than two weeks after the state lifted its trade restrictions. Good timing, according to Murdock.
“There is definitely pent-up demand, I mean we’ve seen it in all areas, not just national lacrosse championships, but other sports,” he said.
The tournament continues on Sunday with the Division II and III title matches. The National Championship is Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. between Maryland and Virginia.
The tournament is the first major sporting event since the state lifted COVID-19 restrictions and is expected to provide a big economic boost.