Columbus Gets NCAA Tournament Action

Fans are pouring into Columbus today as Nationwide Arena plays host to round one and two of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Some are in town to support their school’s team while others came just to watch some basketball.

Jane Andrews of Knoxville, Tennessee came to cheer on both University of Tennessee and her husband’s alma mater Virginia Tech. Win or lose, Andrews says she is staying the whole weekend.

“It’s fun,” Andews says. “We just got here last night but people have been really great. The downtown area is great and we’ve got a lot planned for tomorrow because we plan on being here until Sunday.”

Columbus resident John Chuck says he is not rooting for any of the teams playing at Nationwide but he did not want to miss out on the fun. “Just came out to see all the action,” Chuck says. “Everybody’s in town. I figured it’s St. Patty’s Day Eve and I’d get on down here and watch the game.”

Arena District bars are adjusting to the influx of out of towners by adding more staff and security, and adjusting hours of operation. Frog Bear Wild Boar Bar manager Jason Eggemen says customers arrived as early as 8 a.m.

“We have actually 17 people just bartending in excess of all the security bar backs and servers,” Eggeman says. “So obviously we’re way more staffed then we normally would be. So it’s been a pretty interesting day so far.”

Just next door to Frog Bear Wild Boar is O’Shaughnessy’s tavern. The tavern’s Matt Laurems says it set up an outdoor food stand selling everything from burgers to cookies.

“Basically when the area is overwhelmed we try to take some of the burden of food concession from inside because there is not enough seating and people are hungry when you have 20000 people all at once and just a few restaurants,” Laurems says.

He says even though he expects O’Shaughnessy’s to be packed with people this weekend, he thinks the turnout could have been better if Columbus had received higher ranked teams.

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