If your heart is on the hardwood, your home this weekend should be Hartford.
The city is hosting the Big East Women's Basketball Championship and the America East men's and women's championships. Hoops fans will be able to see six of the country's top 25 women's teams in action, including top-ranked UConn and the University of Hartford Hawks, who are now at Nos. 21 and 23 in the ESPN/USA Today and AP polls, respectively.
The tournaments are an economic boon to the city, taking a total of 4,500 hotel room nights and adding nearly $4 million in economic impact.
Just as important, the city is maturing as a host of such events. A decade ago, such tournaments would come and go with little effort to make the most of their presence. Now groups work together to welcome visitors, entertain them and show them around (see www.enjoyhartford.com).
There are events at the XLCenter such as music, magicians and face painting; plus alumni parties, tours and longer hours for the Star Shuttle and the visitors' center. "We're going all out," said H. Scott Phelps, president of the Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau, which coordinates the effort.
Tournaments are important to the city in many ways. Support them if you can. And if basketball is not your game, Trinity College is hosting the men's and women's College Squash Association Singles Championships this weekend.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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