Back-to-back basketball tournaments boost downtown St. Louis

Consecutive weekends of college basketball conference championships at the Scottrade Center are expected to provide a boost to businesses in downtown St. Louis as teams and their fans fill hotels, restaurants and bars in the area.

St. Louis has hosted the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament since the early ’90s. This year, the Southeastern Conference is joining the MVC in holding its postseason tournament at the Scottrade Center. And the SEC comes to town at a time that the league is unusually competitive and the home-state Missouri Tigers are resurgent.

But what’s that mean to businesses? The SEC has said it generally books 3,500 hotel rooms on peak nights with about 14,000 total rooms, according to John Bettag of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission.

Bob O’Loughlin, chairman and CEO of Lodging Hospitality Management, which owns the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark and St. Louis Union Station Hotel downtown, said all his company’s hotels were sold out for the SEC tournament, and he estimated all downtown hotels would be sold out.

Nashville has hosted the last three SEC championships, and the city’s sports council reported direct spending from tournament attendees of of $18.7 million in 2015, $20 million in 2016 and $21.5 million in 2017.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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