In January, I wrote about how Columbus, Ohio is turning into a premier city for hosting large events. At that time, Columbus was in the midst of hosting the city’s first NHL All-Star game (which was a huge success!). Columbus also recently played host to the wildly-successful Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival, which has grown so large that an estimated $50 million is generated each year from fitness enthusiasts visiting the Columbus area. Of similar size, the 40th Annual Memorial Tournament will be hosted at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. Beginning on June 1st and wrapping up on June 7th, the Memorial Tournament is universally viewed as one of the premier PGA Tour events of the golf season. The Memorial Tournament attracts the game’s best golfers and thousands of fans to the Columbus area each year, generating more than $50 million in economic impact to the region.

Building off of the momentum of other sporting events and conventions, the 2015 NCAA 64-team Tournament officially tips off today and tomorrow, with Columbus’ Nationwide Arena hosting the first and second rounds (officially called the second and third rounds with the “play-in” games now being referred to as the First Four). Below is a schedule of tournament basketball scheduled for Friday at Nationwide Arena:

          2:10 PM: West Virginia (5 seed) vs. Buffalo (12 seed) – Nationally televised on TNT.

          4:50 PM: Maryland (4 seed) vs. Valparaiso (13 seed) – Nationally televised on TNT.

          7:27 PM: Oklahoma (3 seed) vs. Albany (14 seed) – Nationally televised on truTV.

          9:57 PM: Providence (6 seed) vs. Dayton (11 seed) – Nationally televised on truTV.

The winner of the West Virginia / Buffalo matchup will square off with the winner of the Maryland / Valparaiso matchup on Sunday, with the chance to advance to the Sweet 16. Likewise, the Oklahoma / Albany victor will play the winner of Providence / Dayton in an attempt keep the Big Dance dream alive.  Dayton, is coming off a thrilling 1-point win over Boise State in the First Four, play-in round, qualifying to the field of 64 teams.

People all over the country will be tuning into these games, many to track the success (or failure) of their brackets. Filling out the tournament bracket has almost become a part of American culture. In fact, the American Gaming Association expects more NCAA Brackets will be filled out in 2015 than presidential ballots cast in 2012. As the nation tunes into what is sure to be another exciting season of March Madness, Columbus is thrilled to play a part in the action.

The madness is nearly upon us, so be sure to get your brackets filled out and make your way down to the Arena District to take part in the action. The question being asked around every office in America is, “Who is your Final Four?” Share your answer here and see how it stacks up against President Obama’s bracket!

« Back