Four men’s college basketball teams arrived in Fort Wayne Wednesday night to compete in the Division III NCAA National Championship. This is the first time the Summit City will host the tournament.
The teams, Christopher Newport University from Virginia, Swarthmore College from Pennsylvania, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and Wheaton College from Illinois, arrived on Wednesday evening.
They are staying in the Hilton and Courtyard by Marriot hotels downtown.
Restaurants in that area are expecting a busy weekend for business.
“We’ll be stacked up extra for the entire weekend, getting ready for them to come in,” said Barry Jenkins, the general manager for Conner’s Kitchen and Bar. “We have the Coach’s Association coming in tomorrow night as a group, and so we’re definitely going to see a lot more traffic and have a lot more people working.”
Visit Fort Wayne President Dan O’Connell said he expects the city will make $300,000 to $400,000 this weekend.
East Allen County Schools is also getting involved. Thursday and Friday before play is set to begin, players from all four teams will visit EACS elementary schools to meet with and read to students.
“They get to see young athletes who participate in sports enjoy reading,” said EACS administrator Teresa Knoblauch. “Just helping to be a role model for that and instill the love of reading when it’s not just focused on ‘oh what do I have to learn?’ but to enjoy a good book.”
The players are excited for the weekend ahead and to be in the Summit City.
“Everyone’s just really excited to be in the state of Indiana where basketball is paramount,” said Swarthmore Freshman Guard Peter Foggo. “We’re really excited to be playing in Indiana…Fort Wayne, especially.”
Foggo told WANE 15 he was excited about playing in Fort Wayne because of the Memorial Coliseum, a facility that tournament officials say is hard to top.
“This is state of the art,” said tournament committee member Leonard Trevino about the Memorial Coliseum. “The NCAA prides itself on the student-athlete experience. This is what we’re talking about right here. The Coliseum…you look around. It’s got that feel of a championship.”
The games begin Friday at the Coliseum with the first tipping off at 6:00 p.m. and the second at 8:00 p.m.
The championship is Saturday at 7:00 p.m.
Ticket prices and information can be found here.