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Big Sky hoops tourney boosts Missoula economy

By Emily Adamson, KECI Reporter, eadamson@keci.com
Published On: Mar 13 2013 05:39:43 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

It's a big, long weekend for Big Sky Conference basketball players, fans and families.

Missoula's hosting the men's and women's conference tournaments, and people are already packing hotel rooms.

It's the third time ever and the first time since 2000 that both the Griz and Lady Griz have hosted together at home.

NBC Montana talked with several hotel mangers and they're booked! With a dozen teams between the men's bracket and the women's bracket coming from out of town, its set up to be a busy weekend in Missoula.

It's exciting for the players.

“We get along with the guys and I think both of us are super excited and proud of each team for hosting,” said the Lady Griz player Torry Hill.

“You know that just makes it even more special to go out there and support the girls and have them come support us as well,” said Griz point guard Will Cherry.

And huge for the school.

“To bring this many people on to the campus at the University of Montana and showcase really what we do here,” said UM Athletic Director Kent Haslam.

But hosting two tournaments in a matter of four days is big for Missoula too.

“We're just excited to bring this many people to Missoula,” Haslam said.

Hotels around town are full. A college basketball team needs at least 20 rooms. With 12 out of town teams, that’s 240. And that doesn’t’ even include family and fans.

“Every room is rented and we even had a waiting list,” said Missoula’s Wingate Hotel General Manager Alicia Jones.

Jones said she even had to turn away college basketball teams. “Weber State called us to look for rooms and unfortunately I had to call them back and tell them we were full.”

Fans that didn't plan ahead could be out of luck. But Griz and Lady Griz players aren’t worried. They're anxious to show off their school, their skills and their city.

“When they come out and support us they give us a little extra juice and we know they're going to get it rocking, so we're excited for it,” said Griz Junior Kareem Jamar.

The women's tournament started Wednesday and the men will tip off Thursday. Click here for a full schedule of both tournaments.