NCAA Tournament in Columbia, South Carolina
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament creates magical moments that bring a lifetime’s worth of memories. Executive Director of the Columbia Regional Sports Council, Scott Powers, witnessed the magic in 2018, but he watched the game from a hotel room in Wichita.
Powers was in Wichita to scout the city and sports venue that resembled what Columbia had to offer the NCAA.
“I wanted to go to Wichita because I think Wichita had more in common with Columbia than Charlotte did,” Powers said in an interview a few days after the NCAA awarded Columbia the first and second round games of the 2019 tourney. “Charlotte being an NBA city, it’s in an NBA arena. Wichita is more of a college town with Wichita State there. Similar size arena, age of arena, downtown, river. There’s a lot of similarities between here and Wichita.”
As a first time host, Power expects Columbia, South Carolina to generate quite a bit of revenue. He said the number could increase substantially if one or more schools that are located within a short drive of Columbia is selected to play in the city for the first two rounds. Schools that would significantly boost sales revenue include Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina.
NCAA Tournament at Columbia Life Arena
One of the most important reasons the NCAA chose Columbia to host the first two rounds of the men’s basketball tournament is the state of the art sports venue called Columbia Life Arena. Opened in 2002 as the home for the University of South Carolina’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, the 18,000-seat arena also hosts concerts, conferences, and graduation ceremonies. It is by far the most spacious sports arena in the state, and one of the college campus arenas operating in the United States. In addition to University of South Carolina basketball games, Columbia Life Arena is the venue for the South Carolina High School Basketball Championship. The consistently sold out championship ranks as one of the highest-attended high school basketball championships in the country.
Things to Do in Columbia During the NCAA Tournament
Another reason Columbia was chosen for the first and second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is because of the major revitalization of the downtown neighborhood. Over the past 10 years, the downtown Columbia renaissance has included the opening of numerous boutique shops and restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisines. Of course, Low Country fare still rules the city and the surrounding region. Downtown Columbia boasts Lula Drake, which is an old world wine parlor offering not only classic vintages, but also the type of southern charm visitors expect to enjoy.
Columbia city planners have created several distinct restaurant districts, most of which are located close to Columbia Life Arena. The Gourmet Shop is a popular lunch culinary destination and with the 2019 tourney in Columbia going on over a weekend, visitors will not have to contend with the professional patrons that cause most of the downtown restaurants to go on waits. As the ideal ambiance for outdoor dining, Devine Street includes the highly rated Il Giorgione Pizzeria & Wine Bar. If you prefer a more tranquil setting to take a break from the college basketball madness, visit Congaree National Park located a short drive from downtown Columbia, SC. The park spans more than 26,000 acres.
March Madness 2019 Early Round Round Sites
The first and second round games for this year’s NCAA Tournament are taking place in eight exciting U.S. cities. To shop tickets in each of these locations, follow the links below.