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Albany teens react to NCAA tournament history

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It was a record-breaking weekend where Albany was center stage for the women’s NCAA regional games. More 12 million people tuned in for the most viewed game of all time Monday night. NEWS10 checked in on the financial impact and heard from local teens inspired by the historic events that played out in their backyard.

Now that the madness has worn off, we’ve seen the impact the NCAA had on the area. Officials say we hit all the high marks. “I think this is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Jay Clouthier Director of Sales for Discover Albany.

Cloutier says a few records were broken. “When we look back at the women’s Regional, we are sure to find out these four days were the highest visitor spend for the month of March,” said Cloutier.

When the event kicked off Friday, he said the financial impact was predicted to be around $8.6 million. “With all of the restaurant’s anecdotal information we received with the ‘we were sold out’ ‘hey we couldn’t get a place to drink’ we believe we outstripped the 8.6,” said Cloutier.

Albany also saw higher attendance compared to the other regional host city. “We expected A high turnout and we definitely saw it. We had 55,000 plus attendees at the MVP Arena, that beat the Portland destination by 13,000 14,000 fans over a 4-day period,” said Cloutier.

“It was really packed. It was really packed so it was really hard to get around,” said 14-year-old Daniele, an Albany teen.

David Gordon Program Manager with the Boys and Girls Club of Albany says it was inspirational to the girls he works with.  “It was nothing but girls’ sports. Girls dominated the arena; it was all about women’s basketball and that kind of boosted the confidence of the girls in our area,” said Gordon.

Daniele says she wanted to play basketball at a younger age but was discouraged. “Because I was the only girl on the team, so it was kind of awkward,” said the teen.

But seeing the NCAA women teams in town gave her a sense of pride. “It was eye-opening because it’s really biased and you always see ‘men can do this’, and ‘women can’t do that’. So, seeing a woman do this is very eye-opening,” shared Daniele.

Also, eye opening was the comment made about not much to do in Albany. 12 million people across the country heard those words from an ESPN commentator and the kids I spoke with say this was an inaccurate representation of the place they call home. “Blatantly ignorant to have someone who doesn’t live here kind of go out of their way to just demean any of that,” said 18-year-old Jermaine Witt points to our history and museums.

“Mineral evolution, how Native Americans would live their lives and a little bit of black history,” said Witt.

Gordon does not agree with the negative comment about Albany but says it was not all that wrong. “When the comment was made it was late at night, what was there for families to do, right? Families. So, we have to continue the momentum to find ways to continue to have positive things that’ll bring that momentum as the NCAA tournament did,” said Gordon. Discover Albany says they expect to have official information on the historic weekend by the end of June. 

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