Hutchinson’s version of March Madness spurs economic boost

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 7:28 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - March Madness on a slightly smaller scale is happening in Hutchinson right now. The NJCAA is hosting its national basketball tournament there again this week, and the event is bringing in significant money for local businesses.

This week, more than 20 games are being played inside the Hutchinson Sports Arena, where a junior college national champion will be crowned. This weeklong event makes a big economic impact on Hutchinson. City leaders say more than $1 million will be generated from this year’s tournament.

That includes increased business for nearby restaurants, attractions and hotels.

Ryan Hockenberry, the general manager of a Holiday Inn Express, says with his hotel being only blocks away from the arena, he is booked through the rest of the week.

“It’s a huge boost,” Hockenberry said. “We have 24 teams that come in. I mean food, businesses they’re shopping at, it’s everywhere (and) you see it all over town.”

This year marks the 75th consecutive year Hutchinson has hosted the NJCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. Christopher Parker, president and CEO of the NJCAA, says the tournament will remain in Hutchinson for at least the next two decades.