Local Businesses Prep for March Madness Games

March Madness logo | Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

The 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament descends on Dallas this weekend as the American Airlines Center hosts the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds for the South Regional on Friday and Sunday.

With the expected increase in occupancy and traffic throughout the Dallas area, local businesses, particularly those located in Victory Park and the surrounding area, are bracing for substantial impacts to their establishments.

“We are excited about the NCAA [Tournament],” Nick Villarreal, vice president of operations for Reach Hospitality Group, told The Dallas Express. “I think it will bring a great crowd to the area, especially [the Black Tap]. It has an indoor-outdoor bar, so we suspect that there will be a tremendous amount of food and beverages consumed. I don’t know what the streets will look like. Typically, during large events like this, the city will block off one of these streets so you can go in and out. But we’re staffed like we would for a major event.”

Reach Hospitality Group operates multiple restaurants in Victory Park, including The Black Tap across the street from the American Airlines Center and TacoLingo down the block.

The extra staff, especially for bars and restaurants in the area, will be essential, particularly with newer businesses like The Black Tap. However, business operators in the area are all confident they can handle the excess crowds before, during, and after the games.

“It gets pretty crazy because there’s a lot of foot traffic, and being that we’re right here, everybody comes over here, starts drinking, and having their fun,” Vincent Cervantes, general manager of Dirty Bones, told DX. “… For the most part, a lot of people that come in here before the game have tickets, so they try to get in and out before then, but I think for this type of event, I’m going to have people lingering around throughout the day watching the games here.”

One business that may have to adjust less is Hero by HG, a popular sports bar located outside the arena at PNC Plaza.

“With the college games being here this weekend, obviously there’s no Dallas Stars or Dallas Mavs games,” general manager Joey Beatey explained to DX. “So really, this is just swapping one for one. … We’re used to big events because we’re right outside of the American Airlines [Center], so to us, the preparation part isn’t as detail-oriented as maybe some that aren’t as close to a venue like this. It’s got to be making sure, with a ton of people that are new to the area, to show them a good time.”

The surrounding businesses also got a good idea of what to expect from last year’s Women’s Final Four.

“It was awesome. It was amazing,” Beaty remarked. “… They were game-ready. The women[‘s fans] absolutely showed up and showed out. It was awesome. They traveled really well, and it was great.”

This weekend’s games should have a similar effect.

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