HELENA — March will be basketball heavy for Montana's capital city.
On March 11 and 12, Carroll College will be hosting the NAIA Basketball Tournament as one of the opening round sites. The teams have yet to be announced, but an increase in crowds is likely guaranteed. After all, the Carroll PE Center can hold up to 2,928 fans according to the College's website.
Before the NAIA Tournament starts, The Western AA Divisional Tournaments will bring in 12 high school teams from western Montana to Helena. There is also the SWISH basketball tournament, an event for 3rd to-8th grade athletes, which will also bring in teams and parents from around the state. Not to mention March Madness, which will surely have bars and restaurants packed on game days.
“Those teams coming in from out of town, and they bring, you know, coaches, parents, fans with them. And of course, they're going to want to do some shopping. They're gonna eat in our restaurants, and probably go to some of our breweries, and things like that, and stay in our hotels. And so yes, that is a that's a definitely an economic impact in Helena,” says Mike Mergenthaler, Vice President of the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce.
All the influx of teams, coaches, parents, and fans is sure to bring a boon to the Helena economy. Mergenthaler says that the SWISH event alone is projected to bring in a quarter to half a million dollars in economic impact.
John Schneider, General manager and district supervisor at Helena Hokkaido Ramen & Sushi Bar, is preparing for the influx of basketball athletes and fans.
“Yeah, I'm excited for these coming weekends man. It's gonna be so good for the Helena economy and the businesses, and all that extra surge of out-of-town people and things finally starting to feel like the sense of normalcy. And I know everybody is just really excited about that and I am too,” says Schneider.