Omaha Economy To Take Major Hit Without Fans At NCAA Tournament Games

Omaha's economy is about to take a major hit now that the coronavirus outbreak has forced the NCAA to prevent fans from watching first and second round tournament games at the CHI Health Center next week.

The city's primary tourism organization, Visit Omaha, estimates the loss to be about $5 million without basketball fans.

"Every out of town visitor spends about 140 dollars a night they are here...that's a really conservative estimate and that's all money that's coming in here and impacting our economy," Marketing VP at Visit Omaha Deborah Ward tells WOWT-6 News.

For perspective, the last time Omaha hosted the NCAA in 2015, 81% of hotel rooms in Omaha were filled. That's not going to happen this year.

A hotel manager tells 6 News the cancellation means they won't come near hitting their yearly financial goal. Restaurants and bars are also going to feel the difference.

In the Capitol District across from the arena executive director Brian Wallingford said they've been planning for something like this for weeks.

"It's not anything that's going to break us but we're going to have to take a long hard look at what we're doing and see if our event is going to continue or if this is something we're going to reevaluate," Wallingford said.

Some of the events hosted by the Capitol District are based around the sporting events and planned more than a year in advance. Some are nonrefundable if the they have to to cancel them.

"Anytime you start a new business...especially a development as large as this having a hick-up that disrupts the tourism flow to the area is going to hurt the bottom line," Wallingford said.

Wallingford says the Capitol District will be able to tough it out, but worries for the smaller businesses if cancelations of large events continue.

"This is going to hurt this entire community, this entire area downtown. We are very dependent not just on Omaha, Nebraskans, and even western Iowans but we are heavily reliant on tourism in this area," Wallingford said.


Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content