The Conference USA women’s basketball tournament that starts Thursday will bring national publicity and thousands of fans and players to Fort Worth.
Several TCU-area restaurants are bracing for a busy weekend, and downtown hotels are booked in anticipation of the 11-game tournament in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
Blue Mesa Grill and Cafe has already received reservations from team members and alumni, manager Dennis McFarlin said. He reserved space Tuesday afternoon for a 30-person cocktail party for Houston players.
“We take the money and then (TCU) beats them and sends them home,” McFarlin said. “Anytime TCU is playing and winning, they are out there enjoying themselves, and that helps us all.”
Approximately 1,300 tournament passes had been sold Tuesday and more tickets are expected to be sold for two-game passes, said Kent Hegenauer, the manager of ticket operations.
“The more TCU advances, the better off we will be,” said Hegenauer, in reference to ticket sales.
Tournament passes are $25 for students and $35 for adults. Students and children pay $5 for individual two-game passes, while adults pay $10.
Athletics director Eric Hyman said TCU expects to break even financially for hosting the tournament. He said tournament revenue will cover the fee the university paid the conference to host the event.
“It won’t cost us anything, but we won’t be making anything,” Hyman said.
Tim George, marketing director for athletics, said TCU has been preparing for the tournament since the university put in its bid last year.
“It gives us an opportunity to show off TCU and Fort Worth,” George said.
Local hotels are also expecting a profitable weekend.
Downtown’s Renaissance Worthington, which has an 80 percent to 90 percent occupancy rate this time of year, has no rooms available. The hotel was forced to turn down many people seeking a room for the weekend, manager Patti Rennaker said.
George said there are many adjustments to be made with staffing because multiple games and multiple teams need to practice. He said TCU is more than happy to make the necessary adjustments in order to make the tournament run smoothly.
Most teams will arrive today and stay in downtown hotels. However, George said the players will go on sightseeing tours and attend a reception.
In addition to good publicity, the tournament will give the No. 2-seeded Lady Frogs a home court advantage.
The Lady Frogs have a bye Thursday and play the winner of the Charlotte/East Carolina game at 6 p.m. Friday.
The championship game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday and will be televised on ESPN2.
If the Lady Frogs make it that far, business managers like McFarlin are ready to cash in.
“After TCU wins the tournament on Sunday, there will be a celebration,” he said.