Make us your home page
Instagram

Women's Final Four boosts businesses in Tampa

Janis Small, in green, of Tampa places a drink order, while Jill Bressler, right, of Hopkinsville, Ky., passes off a drink at Dave Andreychuk’s Grille, across from the St. Pete Times Forum. Many businesses benefitted from the Women’s Final Four.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Janis Small, in green, of Tampa places a drink order, while Jill Bressler, right, of Hopkinsville, Ky., passes off a drink at Dave Andreychuk’s Grille, across from the St. Pete Times Forum. Many businesses benefitted from the Women’s Final Four.

TAMPA — It was an odd sight at Channelside Bay Plaza: A crowded courtyard. All 360 Bennigan's seats were occupied with lines outside. No room to spare at Splitsville bowling alley.

And it was Monday, a typically slow day of the week. At 11 a.m.

"Our courtyard was more full at that time of day than I have seen it in three years," said Kathy Walsh, property manager of the 32-store waterfront retail complex.

These were some of the fruits of playing host to the Women's Final Four basketball tournament, which ended Tuesday night in Tampa.

The NCAA won't tally its estimates of the economic impact on the Tampa Bay area for weeks, but business owners were ebullient about the two-day event, which sold out the St. Pete Times Forum and drew about 30,000 people to Tampa.

"This is definitely our best group of days by far since we've opened," said Rob Wolfe, owner of Sports City, a Channelside sports retail store.

Business owners say the Final Four created a greater bump in sales than last year's ACC men's basketball tournament and March's first round of men's basketball games, both held in Tampa.

"There's no comparison," said Wolfe, whose University of Tennessee "Got Summitt" T-shirts flew off shelves. "I am completely impressed with how many folks are here."

Downtown hotels were booked since Sunday, said Cricket Wagner, Westin Tampa Harbour Island sales director. She lauded tournament organizers for making scores of stickers, vests, banners, column wrappers and signs emblazoned with the Final Four logo available to hotels to effectively market the games.

"I've been impressed with the signage," said Pat Kerr, 60, from Maryville, Tenn. She, along with three of her friends, said they found Tampa a friendly, hospitable city with a tricky downtown to navigate.

"I'm the driver, and I've been very confused with the one-way streets," said Kathy Stinnett, 53. "And we've been trying to find a grocery store and we haven't yet."

They also complained of a jump in event parking prices on game days. But they said they felt safe walking around downtown and loved the fact that most events were located near there.

The bump in business was even felt in Ybor City, where several bars and clubs held massive parties for a large lesbian fan base that was in town for the Final Four. Pamela Palumbo, owner of Twirl Girl promotions, said a Friday night event at the Rare Olive bar drew about 500 while the "Bounce" party, advertised as "Tampa Bay's Largest Women's Party," at club Czar drew more than 1,000 patrons.

Florida's Beach, part of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, couldn't estimate how much the Final Four impacted Pinellas County. But combined with Saturday's St. Petersburg Grand Prix, everywhere seemed busy.

"In terms of national exposure for the greater Tampa Bay area — fantastic," spokesman David Downing said.

Rick Nixon, NCAA spokesman, said Tampa met all expectations as a host city. Tampa has bid to seek the tournament again between 2012 and 2016.

While the Final Four was a major national event, organizers and business leaders say hosting next year's Super Bowl will be a different animal because more corporations will book blocks of rooms and restaurants during the massive event, which draws more than 100,000. But any practice is good, according to Tampa Bay & Co., the visitors and convention bureau.

"Experience is the key with these major events," said Rob Higgins, Tampa Bay Sports Commission director. "The more our community gets to experience these events, the more we get to appreciate being able to host."

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

Women's Final Four boosts businesses in Tampa 04/08/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 9, 2008 6:52am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Senate leaders unveil bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act

    Health

    The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans, who have promised a repeal of the Affordable Care Act for seven years, took a major step on Thursday toward that goal, unveiling a bill to cut Medicaid deeply and end the health law's mandate that most Americans have health insurance.

    U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill's chief author, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has said "Obamacare is collapsing around us, and the American people are desperately searching for relief." [AP]
  2. Southwest Airlines to offer flights from Tampa to San Diego

    Airlines

    TAMPA — Southwest Airlines will offer new nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to San Diego International Airport beginning Jan. 8, 2018.

    Southwest Airlines is planning to launch service from Tampa to San Diego.
[Times file photo]
  3. Tampa Bay homes values continue to rise along with sales prices

    Real Estate

    For the second month in a row, Tampa Bay had one of the highest year -over-year increases in home values in May, Zillow reported today.

    For the second month in a row, Tampa Bay had one of the highest year -over-year increases in home values in May, Zillow reported Thursday.
[Times file photo]
  4. Busy start has Florida Hospital Center Ice dreaming big

    Tourism

    WESLEY CHAPEL — Opening day brought 600 doctors, administrators and their families from Florida Hospital. Soon after that, the facility hosted its first junior league game and a collegiate showdown. A few weeks later, 200 kids, ages 4 to 9, participated in national Learn to Play Hockey Day.

    Alex Senushkin and his grandson, Styopa Kulshyn, 3, of Lakeland, skate at the Florida Hospital Center Ice rink in Wesley Chapel.
[CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]

  5. Qatar Airways seeks to buy a stake in American Airlines

    Airlines

    NEW YORK — State-owned Qatar Airways is attempting to buy a 10 percent stake in American Airlines, triggering U.S. antitrust oversight of deals that size.

    In this file photo, a new Qatar Airways Airbus A350 approaches the gate at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. Qatar Airways is attempting to buy a 10 percent stake in American Airlines, triggering U.S. antitrust oversight over deals of such size. 
[AP file photo]