The Century Link Center’s hosting of the NCAA tournament, combined with a weekend St. Patrick’s Day, has got local businesses feeling pretty lucky.
The Old Mattress Factory does well with televised NCAA tournament games. But this year, they're within walking distance of the action at the Century Link Center. Manager Cyndi Murphy said, "It's big for us, it’s big for north downtown it's huge for Omaha itself."
Deb Ward of the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau said, "Eight teams from all across the country coming in with media… it’s great exposure for the city on television. It's just going to be great."
Beyond the exposure is the business. For Wheatfields Express in the Old Market, the tournament is a big boon with a big number of out-of-towners expected from Missouri and Kansas anticipated. “They do spend money while they're here,” said owner Ron Popp, “and they have time to kill in between events. And it's really good for us in particular. We're really the brunch spot down here."
To the west, Lawlor's Custom Sportswear at 84th & G couldn't have designed a better weekend for sales. Owner Pat Lawlor said, “This would be normally be a big weekend for green apparel for Saint Paddy's Day, for all the collegiate apparel… but really it's all being trumped by blue, blue, blue."
Creighton gear has been moving well since November, but picked up even more after the Missouri Valley tournament. Friday, they take on Alabama in Greensboro. "And then the chance to play North Carolina, which would perhaps be Creighton's biggest athletic event in the history of their school."
The university has asked employees, students and supporters to wear blue Friday in support of the Blue Jays. They enlisted Lawlor’s to design a “Blue Out Omaha” shirt, hoping that a big part of the Century Link’s tournament crowd will wear the color before a nationally televised audience.
Marcus Cinema at Midtown Crossing will be showing the Creighton game on the big screen for free. They’re hoping to make their money on food and drink sales. The doors to the theater open at 11:30 a.m., with tip-off at 12:40 p.m. Free shuttle service to the Century Link Center’s games will also be provided from the shopping center, near 32nd and Farnam Street.