Thursday’s AAC basketball tournament tipoff meant thousands of fans were downtown in their school colors and soaking in the Bluff City.
With Memphis hosting the tournament for the first time in five years, the tournament is a tourism draw for both locals and visitors.
For many out-of-state fans, they weren’t going to pass up the opportunity to visit Memphis for the first time – and used the AAC tournament as the perfect excuse to see the sights.
Local 24 News fans caught up with fans from Kansas to Ohio, making Memphis memories.
“Lot of fun, laid back, love the blues, love barbeque, doesn’t get any better than that,” Rob Bradford, a South Florida fan, said.
“Everything is two minutes away by walking, so, no problem at all. Beats New York City,” a Temple fan told Local 24 News.
Some fans flew into Memphis. Others, like a couple from Connecticut, made a spontaneous 20-hour drive and road trip Wednesday.
The thousands of fans, and their spending this long tournament weekend, is why Memphis Tourism leaders expect the event to pump in between $4 and $6 million.
“We are bringing people in, it’s helping the economy, I think it’s fantastic the AAC is keeping it in a central location,” Jim Gatterer, a Tulane fan, said.
Then there’s the hometown Memphis Tigers fans, happy to help with hospitality but also hoping and dreaming of an AAC tournament title.
“We feel like there will be a Cinderella ending. We think Memphis can do it all,” Debbie Barton said.
“We’ve been going to the games for years and years and years and this is the most excited we’ve ever been,” Vicki Reed said.