GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The SEC Women’s Basketball tournament is underway, and Greenville is preparing for one of the biggest games when the Gamecocks play Friday.
City leaders are expecting more Carolina fans to travel to Greenville than any other team, but all of those visitors are helping the city financially.
The tournament started Wednesday and goes until Sunday. Leaders say they’re expecting around 10,000 people to be visiting Greenville during that time.
“Greenville…We put our best foot forward,” said Carl Sobocinski, the president of Table 301 restaurant group. “We roll out the red carpet.”
Visit Greenville SC has been planning this weekend since 2015.
“We’ll combine that with good weather we know that we’ll have, and people will have a terrific experience of seeing both games and having things to do in between,” said Chris Stone, the president of Visit Greenville SC.
It’s estimated this tournament will bring in nearly 2 million dollars for the city.
People are staying in the hotels which are nearly all booked.
“Our rooms have been reserved in full for probably about 60 days now,” said Jonathan Brashier, the general manager of Aloft Greenville Downtown.
They’re also filling up the restaurants.
“Our sales are up,” Brashier said. “Our number of covers are up.”
Business owners say national events like the tournament put a spotlight on the city.
“All those impressions will turn out on people who will come here in the next six months or so to visit,” Sobocinski said.
Keeping people coming back, like some of the fans who traveled this weekend and remember when they were in the city during the tournament in 2005.
“I don’t remember downtown being this nice before,” said Peggy Moore, a Tennessee Lady Vols fan. “But, it’s really nice. We enjoyed walking all around, seeing everything.”
That’s the reaction city leaders want people to have.
“Having these signature events come to Greenville really do add to our success,” Brashier said. “You need to keep new people coming. You need to keep people’s interest up in our city. I think when they get here it sells itself.”
Visit Greenville SC says if everything goes well this week, the SEC is looking at bringing the tournament back to the city.