HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - College basketball's premiere event will start in Hartford.
Part of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament's Division I first and second rounds will be played at the XL Center on March 21 and 23.
It's been almost 20 years since March Madness has been in the city.
Four first round games will happen on March 21 and two second round games are slated for March 23.
The teams that will play will be determined on March 17, Selection Sunday.
On March 20, fans can attend an all day open practice event at the XL Center. The eight teams that will be playing there will have 30 minutes to practice in front of fans. Admission for the practice is free.
Businesses are expected to be booming.
"The hotels will sell out. The Hilton sold out as soon as they announced the tickets were on sale," said Robert Murdock, Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau.
Lunch and happy hour specials will be available.
Organizers expect 25,000 people to attend the game. The event is also expected to generate an estimated $7.7 million for the greater Hartford region.
“Having the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships back in Hartford is not only a win for the XL Center and the City of Hartford, but for the region as a whole,” said Michael Freimuth, CRDA executive director. “Hotels and restaurants from Windsor Locks to Farmington and Rocky Hill will welcome the eight teams and their fans from across the country. We look forward to the tournament’s return.”
Organizers said many downtown restaurants and bars will offer special discounts and tournament-related promotions.
"We're estimating $7.7 million in economic impact for the region," Murdock said.
That projection is something restaurants like Siam Hartford welcome.
""We really need the nightlife back here in Hartford and we look forward to any event held at the Civic Center, especially March Madness," said Trudy Hutchinson of Siam Hartford Restaurant.
This comes at a time when the Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau has worked hard to secure the event, winning the bid in 2017.
In recent years, it hosted athletic conferences and competitions at the XL Center, putting them in the perfect position.
"I think just that showing we can put on national world-class events in the building in Hartford really allowed us to get this event," Murdock said.
Some Hartford Parking Authority and LAZ parking garages and surface lots will be offering a special event parking rate of $10 from March 20 to March 23.
The Dash Shuttle, CT Transit's free circulator bus in downtown Hartford, will operate with extended hours on March 20 and March 23rd.
Fans visiting from out of town can learn more about the City of Hartford and all it has to offer at the Hartford Business Improvement District’s information booth at the XL Center throughout all tournament sessions.
Should the University of Connecticut qualify for the tournament, the team will have to play at a different venue.
More information can also be found on the XL Center's website here.