Contact: Lynda Goodrich, Western Washington University athletic director, (360) 650-3109
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University’s hosting of the two West Regional NCAA Division II basketball tournaments last week not only brought unprecedented success on the court, but provided a boost to Bellingham’s economy, to the tune of an estimated $1 million over the course of the tournament’s six days.
|Western Washington University's hosting of both the men's and women's NCAA Div. II West Regional Basketball Tournaments - both won by the Vikings - provided an estimated $1 million boost to the local economy as more than 2,500 fans arrived in town for the six days of games.|
With more than 11,000 people packing Western’s Carver Gym during the two concurrently-running tournaments, from such far-flung institutions as Chaminade in Honololu, Hawaii and Grand Canyon University from Phoenix, Ariz., Bellingham was able to feed and house not only the almost 250 athletes and coaches who came to play at Western, but an estimated 2,000-3,000 fans and supporters as well.
“It was an incredible six days. I can’t remember any Division II school hosting both men’s and women’s regionals the way we did, but it was a testament to not only the teams and coaches, but our staff and the city of Bellingham as well. The visitors had nothing but great things to say about our city and the hospitality shown them,” said Western Washington University Athletic Director Lynda Goodrich.
Loni Rahm, president and CEO of Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, said her members were very appreciative of the boost in business associated with the tournaments.
“The Western men's and women's tournaments generated more than March madness – they also generated much appreciated March revenues in hotel rooms, restaurants, and businesses throughout Bellingham,” said Rahm. “The events provided our community with a great opportunity to share the excitement and extend our hospitality to alumni, family and fans.”
The $1 million estimate on economic impact was arrived at by tallying the estimated number of visitors over the course of the tournaments, and then factoring a per diem eating and dining expense for each of those visitors. It does not factor in any boost to retail businesses.
“We’d love to do it all over again next year,” said Goodrich.