Connecticut’s Capital City is hosting the 2015 American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship at the XL Center. Global Spectrum, the City of Hartford, Hartford Business Improvement District (BID), Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTCSB), Hartford Parking Authority, Hartford Hospitality Task Force, the MetroHartford Alliance, Capital Region Development Authority, CTTransit, Connecticut Department of Transportation, LAZ Parking, and other organizations are working to make sure that visitors have a terrific experience while in the city.
The American Athletic Conference Championship is taking place Thursday, March 12 through March 15, 2015 at the XL Center in Downtown Hartford. All 11 American Athletic Conference teams are competing for the conference title, including the 2014 NCAA champion University of Connecticut. The 11 teams that comprise the American Athletic Conference have a combined six NCAA titles, made 22 Final Four appearances, 67 Sweet Sixteen appearances and 173 NCAA tournament appearances.
Over the four-day basketball competition, Championship organizers expect 50,000 attendees, with a projected economic impact to the Greater Hartford region of approximately $4 million, according to the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau. Over 3,000 room nights are expected to be booked in at least seven Greater Hartford hotels by officials, athletes, cheerleaders, bands, alumni groups, and fans. An estimated 1,060 jobs in the hospitality industry will be supported by this tournament, and more than $335,000 in Connecticut Sales Tax generated.
Also in Downtown Hartford is the Spirit Festival National Competition at the Connecticut Convention Center on both Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. One of the largest cheer & dance national championships in the Northeast, the two-day event will involve approximately 7,000 athletes, their families, and officials who will utilize 2,400 room nights at close to a dozen area hotels. Links to these Saturday events and other important Hartford information can be found at www.hartford.com.
As previously announced, the 44th Annual Greater Hartford St. Patrick's Day Parade has been postponed one week to Saturday, March 21 at 11 a.m. See www.irishamericanparade.com
To welcome visitors to the Championship, a variety of features and promotions are planned. They include:
The American 2015 Championship Fan Guide featuring a dash shuttle map, event schedule and Fan Fest information is available at the XL Center (or can be downloaded at www.XLCenter.com/americanhoops), the Greater Hartford Welcome Center at 100 Pearl Street in Hartford, at participating city hotels and restaurants, and at Bradley International Airport’s Info Desk;
2015 Basketball Fan Fest activities in the XL Center’s Exhibition Hall are taking place are taking place on Thursday from 2:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 12 noon to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 12 noon to 3 p.m. Admission to the Fan Fest activities are free for the public – whether or not they hold game tickets. Highlights include: Memorabilia from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame that detail the history of basketball; a Half Court Challenge where you can test your basketball skills against fellow fans for a chance to win prizes; a Kid's Zone with basketball inflatables, sign making and activities for children of all ages; the Taste of the American featuring specialty menu items from the hometowns of each of the participating universities (you must purchase tokens to sample foods); a Man Cave & Game Room lounge area featuring multiple TVs, and games; a Beer Garden with a full-size trailer bar for the ultimate tailgating experience; plus a photo booth, First Alert Weather Center, Sports Desk, social media hub, giveaways and more;
Eleven (11) Downtown restaurants each serve as the fan base for one of the 11 participating teams. On all four days, they are offering a 15 percent discount off food to anyone who presents a ticket stub or official team credential. Arch Street Tavern (USF); Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ (Tulsa); Black Bear Saloon (Cincinnati); Black-eyed Sally’s (Temple); Salute Restaurant (Houston); City Steam Brewery Café (UConn); Hot Tomato’s (SMU); Sorella (Tulane); The Russian Lady (UCF); The Tavern Downtown (East Carolina) and Vaughan’s Public House (Memphis). In addition, Infinity Music Hall Bistro, Nixs Hartford, Peppercorn’s Grill, and Ted’s Montana Grill also offer discounts to ticketholders;
On Thursday and Friday, many Downtown garages and surface lots near the XL Center are offering a Special Event Parking rate of $6 if the driver presents a game ticket, credential, or wears a hat or clothing item of one of the participating basketball teams;
On Saturday and Sunday, many garages and surface lots in the Downtown area will offer a Special Event Parking rate of $6;
dash Shuttle buses are extending hours (operated by CTTransit): Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 12 midnight; and on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.;
Welcome community and business volunteers are joining the Hartford BID’s Ambassadors to greet visitors, and provide directions and answer questions inside the XL Center Fan Fest, outside the building and throughout Downtown. These community and business volunteers are wearing yellow vests and hold Welcome signs;
Championship Welcome Banners are posted on major Downtown streets. Colorful flags from all of the 11 participating teams are hanging on Pratt Street. Championship Welcome Posters and Banners are in place in Downtown shops and restaurants. The Outdoor Marquees at the XL Center and at the Connecticut Convention Center are welcoming the fans and teams; and
Electronic message signs on I-91, I-84 and Route 2 and highway advisory radio station 1670-AM, operated by the Conn. Department of Transportation, will notify drivers about delays or ramp closures entering the city, if they occur.
GAME TICKETS: All-session and individual tickets are available at www.XLCenter.com, by calling 1-877-522-8499, or visiting the Agera Energy Box Office.
Group sales (10 or more) information and discounts are available by contacting 860-548-2000.
For general fan information about the Championship, visit www.XLCenter.com/AmericanHoops
For information about the Championship, a parking map, and other event information, visit www.hartford.com