SACRAMENTO -- If you build it, they will come.
Instead of a field, Sacramento built an arena mainly for NBA basketball. But this coming Monday, big-time college basketball will be making its return and then again in March.
"It's a huge deal," explained Mike Sophia, the director of the Sacramento Sports Commission. "We're bringing March Madness back this coming March, so we'll have the NCAA Tournament here. And to be able to build on that with a college game, a college showcase, it's really cool."
Call it a warm-up to March Madness.
The double-header Monday evening will feature Causeway rivals Sacramento State and UC Davis. While the main event is Cal versus San Diego State.
"It's a great opportunity to see two great college basketball games and also show the NCAA how passionate we are about college basketball," said Sophia.
Monday's double-header signals the return of Division I college basketball since 2007 when Arco Arena hosted the first round of the Men's NCAA Tournament. Since that date, the NCAA deemed the venue out of date and took the tournament to other cities. But this March, it officially returns to the Golden 1 Center.
"With the new arena we think we'll get back into a pretty regular rotation of having the tournament here," speculated Sophia.
The event, March 17 to 19, will also be a huge impact economically for the city.
"We're talking about a $5 million impact," said Sophia. "From people coming in outside the area, to staying in the community for three or four days over that weekend, and enjoying the NCAA basketball tournament."
Tickets for the games in March went on sale Nov. 5, and according to Sophia, there are only a couple thousand left. There are also tickets still remaining for Monday's double-header.