Trenton to host Women's NCAA Tourney

March 25, 2009 3:42:32 PM PDT
March Madness is coming New Jersey's capital.

Work crews at the Sovereign Bank Arena are assembling the $100,000-plus wooden court for the upcoming NCAA Division One women's basketball regionals Sunday afternoon and Tuesday night. Officials just found out that the top-ranked, undefeated University of Connecticut Huskies will be playing. That has caused a spike in already-healthy ticket sales.

"UConn's been on the phone with our Director of Ticketing, putting all their holds on for everybody to come," said Christine Pileckas of Sovereign Bank Arena. "We're expecting a sellout both days. It's going to be awesome."

When Trenton hosted the semi-finals three years ago, fans pumped at least $1.5 million into the local economy by patronizing restaurants, shops and hotels. This time around, businesses hope to blow that figure out of the water.

"This is the Sweet 16, which really puts Trenton on the map as far as an entertainment venue," said Jeff Zeiger, General Manager of the Trenton Marriott Hotel.

The Marriott is designated as the host hotel and will be housing the national press, NCAA officials and referees. Eateries near the hotel and arena are gearing up.

Frank Mazzella of Taco Bell says, "We have extra food ordered and we have extra team members that are going to be here working. So we're hoping it's going to mean a lot to the area."

"It's been really slow," says Jennifer Legore of Phoenix Restaurant. "A lot of people are brown-bagging it for lunch. That cuts the lunch crowd a lot, so I'm hoping this will bring extra business."

The arena holds just over 8,000 people. Tournament organizers promise a good time and great basketball.

"I think it's the best round in the game of basketball, especially the Elite 8 game on Tuesday night," said Mika Ryan, President of the Mercer County Sports and Entertainment Commission and chairwoman of the tournament organizing committee. "The winner goes to the Final 4 and the loser goes home. There's a lot at stake."

The fun begins Saturday with an open practice and Fan Fest at the arena from 11 to 4. And the best part? It's free!

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