Community Impact of First Four

Posted on March 22, 2018

By Stacy Schweikhart, Community Information Manager for the city of Kettering, Ohio and and ELGL Boardmember (LinkedIn and Twitter)
What I’m listening to – Johnnyswim.  Pretty much always Johnnyswim.
What I’m watching – News[y]. I’m a news junky and News[y] is the perfect blend of true journalism without all of the cable channel crap.  It also sorta reminds me of Channel 1 so it’s a little nostalgic.
What I’m reading – I’m headed on a road trip to South Beach, Key West & Florida’s National Parks soon so I’m devouring articles about off the beaten path, local foodie joints. If you know of any not-to-be-missed empanadas, fresh seafood or key lime pie, do share.

It is my duty as a college basketball loving Daytonian to remind the ELGL nation that March Madness tipped off just over a week ago right here in Dayton, Ohio.  Just like powered flight started here, the Road Starts Here too.
Dayton is the March Madness Tournament’s Most Historic Venue:
Dayton has hosted more men’s NCAA tournament basketball contests than any other site  – 121 games. That number will continue to rise as Dayton is locked in to host the First Four through 2022. The University of Dayton arena is nothing short of electric and Dayton is known for having the most passionate college basketball fans in the country.
The 2018 First Four set more records:

  • The largest crowd in First Four history
  • The Most Viewed First Four in history

Each year I have the privilege of serving as a member of the Dayton Hoopla Local Organizing Committee, a team of dedicated professionals from all sectors of the community who come together to support the First Four.
Here in Dayton, several area municipalities support the LOC right alongside our colleagues from non-profits, healthcare and private industry.  Why?
The obvious reason is the undeniable economic impact of our region hosting the First Four.  Annual estimates are that the First Four brings nearly $5 million in direct economic impact to our community.  Sold out crowds for the games mean sold out hotels, packed restaurants and bars and busy shopping centers.  The team from the Dayton Development Coalition brings in site selectors to support economic development efforts by showcasing the energy in Dayton both on and off the court.  Hosting the First Four puts Dayton in the national media spotlight, attention that reaps rewards long after the fans leave the arena.
But here in Dayton, the First Four is about so much more than brackets.  The Big Hoopla -Local Organizing Committee unites the community in two unique efforts to honor the history of our region as part of our First Four events.
Related imageWright Patterson Air Force Base is Ohio’s largest single site employer and is closely tied to our legacy as the birthplace of aviation.  The Hoopla Ticket Program provides NCAA Tournament tickets, free-of-charge, to military service members and their families. The highly successful program donates thousands of tickets annually, surpassing 30,000 tickets donated since 2012 and has garnered the financial support from multiple NBA players and top-tier national sponsors.
The LOC committee works closely with Wright-Patt personnel to insure that each ticket is donated and distributed according to Air Force guidelines.
Image result for dayton hooplaIn fact, in July 2014 Air Force Times ranked Wright-Patterson Air Force Base #1 base nationally in large part thanks to community support and donation of tickets to Airmen.
Each year we swear in a new class of cadets center court during the tournament, a moving ceremony that pays tribute to all of the military in our region in a display of unrivaled patriotism.
Dayton is the birthplace of invention far beyond the airplane.  The automatic starter for automobiles, the pop top can opener, parachutes, the cash register, step ladders – even space food – all invented here in Dayton.
Image result for dayton hoopla
The Big Hoopla encourages the spirit of ingenuity for the next generation by hosting the Big Hoopla STEM Challenge.  The event held at Chaminade Julienne High School (go CJ Eagles!) features hands on STEM exhibits for students K-8 from dozens of local power, engineering, research and science companies.  More than 1,500 young learners join us on NCAA Selection Sunday each year for the experience that includes a day of learning and a hot shot basketball competition.  This year CJ sponsored the regional STEM Teacher of the Year Award to recognize a local educator who truly embraces the power of STEM learning.  Hot Shot winners and STEM Students of the Year join LOC members at center court during the tournament for recognition.
So as the next round of the tournament tips off later today, remember where it all started.  Here.  In Dayton, Ohio.  The epicenter of college basketball.
Image result for dayton hoopla

Want to hear more about Dayton Hoopla and the community impact of the First Four?  Stay tuned for an upcoming GovLove episode!

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