‘It would be great for the city’: Over $1M could be used to bring March Madness back to Jacksonville

The Jacksonville City Council wants to allocate over a million dollars to Visit Jacksonville to enhance sports tourism in the city.

During the Wednesday city council meeting, council members talked about using $1.5 million to attract events like the NCAA tournament. Several people including Morgan Tencza, who works for Sporting Jax, a professional soccer club bringing men’s and women’s soccer to Jacksonville, support the idea.

“Sports brings the community together. I’ve seen it happen here already, I’ve only lived here for a couple of months. And already the sports world just brings you all together. So having more events here, it would be really fun. I know, the Florida-Georgia game is absolutely huge. And bringing in tourism like that can definitely build a community, build up the hype. People don’t look at Jacksonville, as a very big sports city. So I think something like that would definitely bring it in,” Tencza said.

Jacksonville held the opening rounds of the college basketball tournament between 2006 and 2019. The city hotels eight teams and saw an economic impact of $10 million.

“It would definitely help the local economy and tourism dollars. Like I said, we’re from New Orleans. I know a bit about what tourism can do, as far as the economic impact of it. So I think that it would help a lot of local vendors. It would help a lot of local artists. It would help a lot of locals in general with increasing the tourism dollars,” Dwight Howard said.

Morgan Abrahamson is a lifelong Jacksonville resident who wants the city to grow and believes in its potential.

“I’ve been to the March Madness events in the past, they were great. I think Jacksonville is a great host city for that type of thing. There I think is a lot to be said about the infrastructure downtown and getting, you know, accommodations for you know, attracting a high volume of tourism. I think 100% on board with that. If they can make it happen. It would be great for the city,” Abrahamson said.

The city council did not vote on the ordinance during the meeting, but if it does pass, then the next change the city would have to host a NCAA tournament is in 2027.

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