TAMPA, Fla. — Proving to be a winner both on and off the court, the Final Four of the 2019 NCAA women’s basketball tournament tips off at Tampa’s Amelia Arena on Friday.

Local officials say the estimated economic impact of the women’s Final Four is worth up to millions of dollars.

Hundreds of thousands of people coming here to take advantage of our hotels, restaurants, shops and everything this city has to offer.

Setup began earlier this week. As much effort has been put in, local leaders are expecting to get a big return on the investment. Since the event has yet to take place, economic impact numbers aren’t quite exact, but leaders can go off of what we’ve seen in the past.

An economic impact study found last year's event drew nearly 20,000 visitors to the city and accounted for 32,000 hotel-room nights. However, many economic impact studies don't account for:

  • Leakage: Money spent locally, like at a chain hotel or restaurant, that gets sent to another region. For example, where the company is headquartered.
  • Displacement: Event money spent that displaces money that would have been spent in the community anyway, even without the event.

Last year alone, organizers told the Associated Press the woman’s Final Four brought in an estimated $22 million to Columbus, Ohio. With Tampa being a bigger city than Columbus, the hope is to surpass last year's figure by a long shot.

“We’re not only exposing the community to all of these great visitors coming into town to follow their teams and to follow their sport, but then also on the national television broadcast, said Tampa Bay Sports Commission Executive Director Rob Higgins. “There are more than 600 media that come so this is an awesome stage that our community truly deserves to be on through these big events.”

Higgins says it could open the door to other big events coming to our city. There are several already planned as soon as next year, including March Madness at Amalie Arena and WrestleMania 36 at Raymond James Stadium.

“When it comes to the women’s Final Four, people traditionally stay for an average of up to five days, and so when you talk about the impact, that will do well for us both economically and socially,” Higgins said.

We’re told the Final Four has a social impact as well, leaving a legacy even after the games with continued community volunteerism and programming that still exists even after the games.

This is the third year for Tampa to host the women’s Final Four. Tampa won previous bids for the games in 2008 and 2015. Tampa is now tied with Indianapolis and New Orleans for cities hosting it three times.

No. 2 seed Oregon plays No. 1 seed Baylor in the first game around 7 p.m. ET Friday. No. 2 seed UConn plays No. 1 seed Notre Dame in the second game around 9 p.m. ET Friday.

Amalie Arena will host both games, which will both air on ESPN2.

The championship game is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET Sunday at Amalie Arena. ESPN will broadcast the game.

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