Business booming thanks to March Madness games here: ‘We need more of this’

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SEATTLE -- Thousands of college basketball fans from all over the country are in Seattle right now for the NCAA tournament, and local businesses will take every one of them.

“Yeah, we need more of this,” said Kristin Schramm, a bartender at Oskar’s Kitchen. She opened two hours earlier than normal Friday morning, and the place filled up immediately.

“Within 10 minutes, every seat in here was packed,” said Schramm. “I was all by myself, there was only one cook, and we were already running out of everything.”

Don Tremblay, the owner of T.S. McHughs, says the boom in business is reminiscent of when the Sonics Boom was big on Queen Anne Hill.

His rooting interest now? Gonzaga. The Zags fans travel well and if they win Friday night, they’ll stay through the weekend.

“We’ve been hoping for Gonzaga all year to get this slot, so it’s working out well for us,” said Tremblay.

The local economy should be seeing a big benefit from March Madness. Fans from across the country are expected to inject nearly $8 million into the Seattle area, eating at local restaurants, driving rental cars, and renting hotel rooms.

There is expected to be nearly 12,000 stays at local hotels in Seattle, just for the weekend.

Kelsey Asplund, the manager of The Mediterranean, which is booked solid for the weekend.

“It’s fantastic, and it’s a huge help to us in March, which isn’t always the busiest time of year for us as a hotel.”

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