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March Madness Brings Excitement for Current, Future Downtown Sacramento Businesses

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SACRAMENTO -- March Madness in Sacramento kicked off with a perfect storm Friday: college basketball plus St. Patrick's Day and sunshine.

The excitement was evident on the streets Downtown.

"Oh, it's exciting," said Annie DeGuzman. "So much happening all at once, I don't even know where to start."

Many sports fans started the day fueling up at nearby eateries like Sauced BBQ.

"We had to start turning people away because the flood was just coming," said Lance Laxson, general manager of Sauced.

The restaurant adjacent to the arena opened early. By 8:45 a.m. the line was out the door.

"This will be our busiest week by far," Laxson said.

The Golden 1 Center estimates over 17,000 sports fans will be in Sacramento for the NCAA Tournament this weekend. Those visitors are expected to spend millions.

"$5.8 million is the spend in Downtown; I think that's very conservative, I think that number is much much higher than that," said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council.

Broome is less focused on the money spent this weekend and more interested in the potential to attract new businesses to the region.

"We have a lot of business people here this weekend looking at that game, that we're talking to about, 'Isn't this a great place? Maybe you should be putting a company here? Maybe you should be investing in jobs in our community?'" Broome said.

As Broome used the big event to meet with consultants from big name companies, some visitors from nearby big cities changed their perceptions about the capitol city.

"Honestly, it changed my mind a little bit," said Chris McDavid from San Francisco. "I'll probably slow down on the ribbing that I give him with regards to it being a cow town."

March Madness already making an impact on visitors, businesses and possibly the future of the region.