DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Eight teams learned late Sunday night that they would play in Dayton for the First Four. After the excitement of getting into the tournament, they are now trying to focus their energy on preparing for the games.
The city’s Big Hoopla committee pulls out all the stops as soon as the teams are announced, realizing that making it into the tournament is not an annual guarantee.
As soon as the teams land, they are shuttled to a hotel by bus, and that’s when Dayton cues the music.
The players and staff are sometimes a bit shocked by the welcome, but Fairleigh Dickinson Head Coach Greg Herenda says this is an experience they have all been training for.
“Today is the validation of all that they do. I’m happy for my players and my staff and the university,” he says. “It’s that Dayton-welcome that makes that big-game mentality all that more real. It’s a great place to be. Dayton, Ohio. Another great welcome by the Crowne Plaza, so many people, it is a lot of fun.”
It takes a lot of people to get these teams to town and to make it feel like home. Within minutes of the First Four selections, area hotels like the Marriott at the University of Dayton and the Crowne in downtown Dayton spring into action, working non-stop for that welcoming moment.
“It’s exciting because we have no idea who is coming. Some teams we are familiar with, and some teams have never been here to Dayton,” says Colleen Whalen, Event Manager for Marriott at the University of Dayton.
Jacquelyn Powell of the Dayton Convention and Visitors Bureau adding, “We want them to know that we care that their team is here and that our fans here in Dayton, Ohio, are going to watch whatever teams are playing.”
It is estimated that the First Four brings in roughly 4.6 million dollars to the area’s economy.