The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is coming to Columbia for the first time since 1970.
Colonial Life Arena, the home of South Carolina men’s and women’s basketball, was selected as one of eight sites to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament in 2019. Games will be played at the site on March 22 and 24, with USC serving as the host university for the site.
According to Scott Powers of the Columbia Sports Commission, the tournament will bring in an estimated $10.6 million of economic impact, which will fluctuate based on which teams are selected to play.
“We’re talking about the possibility of over 10,000 hotel room nights being generated, so I think right now, could that go down? I think a lot of that is going to depend on what eight teams we get,” Powers said.
If the USC men’s basketball team makes the tournament in 2019, it will not be able to play in Columbia and would be sent to another site for the first and second rounds. If the USC women’s team is selected as one of the top 16 seeds that year, it will not be able to host the first and second rounds. But USC Athletics Director Ray Tanner plans to submit a waiver that will allow the Gamecocks to host outside of the 50-mile radius.
“Those conversations and those plans will be underway,” Tanner said. “Keep in mind that it’s merit-based with the women, so there’s no guarantee. As a former coach, I never want to get out too far on that. Should we be in a position, we will do everything we can to host at another locale.”