DANVILLE — They might be here for the basketball, but teams — and their fans — from throughout the state and around the country have much more time away from the court than they have on it. And filling that time is a boon for the restaurants and businesses in Danville.
This year marks the 21st consecutive year the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Men’s National Basketball Tournament is being played in Danville.
Tournament play begins Tuesday at Danville Area Community College with 16 teams vying for the championship game on Saturday night.
That many players, coaches and fans coming into Danville can turn into a significant financial investment for the city.
Jeanie Cooke, executive director of the Danville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said a study was done almost a decade ago by officials at the University of Illinois and the state department of tourism.
The verdict: More than $1 million is brought into Danville each year by the NJCAA tournament.
Since that time, however, numbers have only grown, with the tournament expanding one extra day of basketball play and adding four more junior college teams to the mix.
“This tournament has an outstanding return on the investment,” Cooke said.
She said, on average, each team accounts for bringing as many as 20 people, counting athletes, coaches and other personnel. In addition, figures indicate an average of 2.5 people per athlete come to Danville as a result of the tournament.
That figure can range from family and friends wanting to watch the tournament to four-year university coaches interested in watching a particular player. More than 100 four-year university coaches were expected to be in attendance at last year’s tournament.
And since it’s not a single elimination tournament, she noted there’s plenty of “dead time” for the coaches, teams and fans to fill during the upcoming week.