The NCAA Midwest regional men’s basketball tournament that gets underway Thursday in Kansas City is projected to bring in more than 50,000 fans and $10 million to the local economy. That’s according to senior communications manager Derek Klaus with tourism organization Visit KC.

Western Missouri gears up for about 50,000 college basketball fans

The event begins Thursday and continues through Saturday with Kansas, Michigan, Oregon and Purdue competing to move on to the Final Four in Phoenix.

Klaus tells Missourinet that Kansas City is hosting 57 games during a 16 day period this month – more than anywhere else in the country. Kansas City hosted the MIAA, Big 12 men’s championship and NAIA men’s championship earlier this month.

“We’re kind of the self-appointed college basketball capital of America,” says Klaus.

He says it takes a village to put on this event. More than 100 volunteers are helping with things like team hosting, blocking off streets, welcome buttons and banners and mascot visits.

“It’s really exciting for us, especially when you look at the entire month of basketball. It amounts to about $28.5 million,” says Klaus. “We have a formula that we put all of these figures into that includes the number of hotels being used by fans, officials, teams, as well as what time of year they’re going to be here, what’s the average daily rate during that time frame, the cost of tickets, the average cost of concessions.”

In its ten years, Klaus says this is the first time the Sprint Center has hosted the men’s regional tournament.

“We’ve hosted some first and second rounds before, but this is kind of the big dog. This is the next best thing to hosting the Final Four,” says Klaus.

Kansas City has about 32,000 hotel rooms and Klaus says there are still some available.

For a list of some of the free tournament related events, click here.