March Madness coming to Portland in 2009

Regional matchups in the NCAA college basketball tournament are supposed to rotate around the region - but Oregon hasn't hosted the tournament since 1983. Today, however, the NCAA has announced the "March Madness" games are coming back in 2009. Last year, Oregon abolished lottery sports betting (on NFL games) making the state once again eligible. From the Oregonian:

Oregon adopted the sports lottery games in 1989 to help raise money for the state's university athletic departments and ended up delivering about $35 million to sports programs. However, the Oregon Sports Authority led a lobbying effort to persuade the Legislature to eliminate the games.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski called the NCAA's decision a win for basketball fans and Oregon's economy.

"Our office has worked hard to remove the obstacles preventing March madness from coming to Oregon," he said in a statement, which also credited the Oregon Sports Authority. "We're making real progress in establishing Oregon as a big-league sports destination, and we are eager to capitalize on this latest momentum." ...

What's the economic impact?

If the tournament draws 20,000 tourists to Portland, it could have an economic impact of about $10 million, said Robert Whelan, an economist with ECONorthwest consulting firm. That does not include the revenue from the 12.5 percent tax charged on both hotel and car rentals in the city, he said.

But the state probably won't make up what it is losing in tax revenue from ending the sports lottery games, he said.

"It probably might be a wash for the state as a whole and for college athletics as a whole," Whelan said. "So it is a good boost for Portland, but may not be so good for the state."


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    FanTAStic news! Where do I buy tickets?

  • Terp fan (unverified)

    Yeah, yeah. Discuss the economic impact at will.

    I'm just savoring the thought that if Maryland gets a 2009 invitation, and if they somehow manage to get assigned to the Portland bracket ('cause we know how wacky those things are) - I will be able to take MAX downtown, wear red without guilt, and watch the basketball team of my alma mater - in person.

    I'm saving my pennies already.

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    I'd like this a whole lot more if it didn't end up costing the state money. And now Oregon can NEVER have any kind of sports betting under federal law. We were grandfathered in when it was banned; now we're just like the other 46 states who can't have it.

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    As a passionate March Madness fan and a KANSAS Alum (but DON'T start me on the last 2 years.....), I'm happy to see the 1st and 2nd rounds here. But unless this becomes a regular occurance, at least every other year, this is much ado about not much.

    Don't get me wrong, I AM passionate about the tourney, and the first 2 rounds are college basketball immersion therapy. A full day's slate of games on the opening day jump starts a fabulous college B-ball experience.

    But the State was essentially strong armed by the NCAA bosses, who, in their sanctimoneous zeal, insisted that no tourney game would EVER take place unless Oregonians and visitors to the state were forbidden from betting on Pro football.

    Regardless of how you feel about college B-ball, and regardless of how you feel about gambling, letting the NCAA decide on what's best for Oregon is a pathetic embarrassment.

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    This makes me unbelievably happy for all my Oregon sports fan friends. I'll come back to watch it in Portland, seeing as how I feel like I'm responsible for getting it rolling. In fact, right here on Blue Oregon, I talked about this in the Holiday in March thread.

    So when the Lottery Commission took it upon themselves way back when to start Sports Action, and then BET PRO BASKETBALL with the Blazers in their backyard, without any kind of a ballot measure to ask fans and voters if they wanted to add that game, who's telling Oregon what's best for them again?

    I'll see everybody there. I'm not missing this. Portland is still the best city in America, and I have to come home for the Dance coming back. Somebody get an extra tournament pass for 2009!

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