March Madness is just two days away from taking over Milwaukee, and Visit Milwaukee estimates fans will spend more than $6 million in Brew City over the first two rounds of the tournament.
Major crowds are expected as four of the eight teams playing here are from Midwest. Inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center, seats are in place, the court is down and NCAA graphics are up.
"Most of the heavy lifting is done," said BMO Harris Bradley Center VP Paul Jansen.
The stage is set for the arena’s seventh and last time hosting the event.
"We're expecting a loud and full building," Jansen said.
All three sessions are nearly sold out. Visit Milwaukee anticipates 55,000 fans will be following Winthrop, Butler, Middle Tennessee, Minnesota, Vermont, Purdue, Iowa State and Nevada to town.
"Our hotels are going to be full, our restaurants are going to be full, our venues and our attractions are going to be full," said Visit Milwaukee Communications Director Kristin Settle.
Bars and restaurants near the arena like Red Rock Saloon are preparing to cash in.
"We've got to order big and we've got to put on a lot more security and a lot more servers, bartenders," said General Manager Jayk Burczyk.
Burczyk said teams are already claiming spots of their own.
"We've booked two teams from Indiana, we've got Minnesota coming down here and Iowa booked for our restaurants as their home base," he said.
Oliver Shawano and his friends traveled from Kansas with tickets to all six games.
"It was here in Milwaukee and I figured why not go?" Shawnano said.
It's his first time attending the "Big Dance."
"There’s going to be lots of different colors and lots of fans from all over," he said.
All eight teams play in the first round at BMO Harris Bradley Center on Thursday, but if you would like to get a sneak peak of the action, every team will practice at the arena on Wednesday.
Winthrop takes the court first around noon. Practice sessions are free and open to the public.
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