NCAA Tournament draws swarm of hoops fans to downtown Buffalo

Mar 20, 2014

Thousands of college basketball fans are in downtown Buffalo today for the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament games at First Niagara Center.

College hoops fans make their way into First Niagara Center.
Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

Local fans say they haven’t seen the city this packed in a long time. The tournament is expected to provide a $5.2 million economic boost for the region. Parking prices near the area have raised eyebrows with some lots charging $40 to $50 to park.

Fans are enjoying the various food trucks lined up outside of the arena, allowed by Mayor Brown this week through a special permit. Local restaurants are also filled up for the games.

Buffalo Iron Works hosts Dayton, Ohio basketball fans.
Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

Basketball fans have also set up specific posts for the team they’re rooting on. Dayton fans have taken over Buffalo Iron Works located in the downtown Cobblestone District, while Syracuse University fans have set up shop at the Pan American Grill and Brewery.Many have made their way into the city from out of town. Syracuse alumna Kristine Fallon says she is excited to cheer on her team in Buffalo.

"I've never been to an NCAA Tournament before. It's close. We've got to come out and support the team," Fallon said.

Pan-Am bartender Amy Kereska says staff came in early this morning to prepare for the games.

Syracuse fans headquarter at Pan American Grill & Brewery.
Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

"We made extra beer, because we are a brewery. We have extra food. We're able to handle anything that's thrown at us today," Kereska said.

In the day's first game, Dayton defeated Ohio State by a score of 60-59. Syracuse is playing Western Michigan this afternoon. Later tonight Connecticut tips off against St. Joseph's followed by Villanova against Milwaukee.

The next round of games will take place at the arena on Saturday.