Sacramento Beams Proud Hosting March Madness Weekend
By Sydney Zuelke
The madness has passed in Sacramento, as Golden 1 Center wrapped up the first two rounds of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Lasting, however, is the mark the prestigious college hoops showcase will leave on this city.
The last time March Madness came to Sacramento was in 2010, when Sleep Train Arena hosted the women’s tournament. For the men, the drought was much longer. The Capital City hadn’t seen the men’s basketball event since 2007.
"The first thing was to get the new arena built," said Mike Sophia, Director of the Sacramento Sports Commission. "NCAA's always loved Sacramento. [We have] great history with championships. It was just a matter of getting the building."
And so, it returned.
“We've been treated unbelievable,” said Oregon Head Coach Dana Altman of Sacramento following the Ducks’ second-round on Sunday. “I love this arena. I think it's a great facility, the locker rooms, everything behind the arena is first-class. The crowd was great today. We had a lot of Duck fans here, so that's great. But the city of Sacramento, the people here at the arena, we could not have been treated any better. We've been here since Wednesday. We couldn't have been treated any better the days that we've been here.”
Not only did the teams enjoy their stay, but fans from around the country traveled to cheer on their alma maters and explore the evolving city.
UCLA fan Paul Martinez traveled from Los Angeles to Golden 1 Center to watch basketball and get a taste of Sacramento.
“We were just talking on the way in that in the next couple of years with all the building that's going on -- it will really be something to come back and see it in a couple of years,” he said in an interview with KCRA.
Sunday’s battles between Oregon versus Rhode Island and UCLA against Cincinnati brought in a sold-out third session, with nearly 17,000 people in attendance. It’s no wonder that the tournament brings in an estimated $5 million to downtown this weekend, according to the Sacramento Sports Commission.
“Having March Madness in Sacramento is huge,” said fan Anthony Piganelli, who traveled from Oakland to watch the action. “A venue like the Golden 1 Center is really exciting, especially since it’s state-of-the-art and brand new. And it’s just really great to have this be the center of attention for the West Coast and for March Madness to come here.”
While this weekend was undoubtedly a big one for Sacramento and a historic moment for Golden 1 Center, it won’t be the last. Sacramento has grand plans to bid for additional NCAA Tournaments in the future.