NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The MEAC tournament is about much more than basketball in Hampton Roads.
The tournament has been known to bring a big boost to the local economy, and WAVY.com caught up with those who’ve been working behind the scenes to make sure local businesses benefit from all the visitors in town. Donna Allen with Visit Norfolk said they won’t know total attendance numbers until the tournament has ended, but it’s shaping up to be another stellar year.
“I think in prior years, they’ve ranged anywhere from 55,000 to 60,000 in ticket sales,” Allen said. “So, hopefully we’ll be on pace and it will be a great week for everybody. People are coming and going and grabbing something to eat and seeing the city on breaks, so I think it’s wonderful for us.”
Allen said historically, MEAC has brought in $4,500,000 to $5 million and one of the first indicators is how quickly hotels fill up. This week, in many hotels you will see MEAC stickers on the door and employees wearing t-shirts in support. Linda Markert with the Norfolk Hospitality Association says there’s one goal this week.
“We want to make sure everyone who comes to Norfolk has a great experience,” Markert said. “It’s a big boost to all of the hotels. We all certainly have the chance to sell out this weekend.”
And WAVY.com spoke to several visitors already seeing what Hampton Roads has to offer.
“I’m from Waldorf, Maryland,” said Colbert Carter. “I’m a Coppin graduate and I’m here to support Coppin State.”
“It’s wonderful,” said Marilyn Wiggins. “I love to see all the HBCU’s get together and the showcase of cheerleading.”
Wiggins drove from Maryland for the MEAC Tournament’s Cheerleading Competition that her daughter’s team won. It’s just one of the many events taking place this week besides basketball.