Hospitality Market Picking Up Again For NCAA Tournament

Like most businesses, the hospitality industry surrounding the NCAA Tournament is on the rebound.

Sam Soni, president of of PrimeSport, the official hospitality provider of the NCAA for the last six years, says business is up more than 20 percent as compared to this time last year.

"Since the bottom of the market in the beginning of 2009, we've seen a double digit increase in 2010 and now again in 2011," Soni said.

PrimeSport sells a variety of packages including individual seats in a suite for all three Final Four games for $1,250 to, the cheapest option, in-stadium all-inclusive hospitality for $400 for both semifinal Saturday and championship Monday (ticket not included).

Soni said a huge factor this year is the Final Four location of Houston, which is ranked second, only behind New York, in number of Fortune 500 companies.

While restaurants and hotels might have suffered from a nearby team in the championship game (Michigan State in Detroit in 2009, Butler in Indianapolis in 2010), Soni says a local team like the Texas Longhorns could help increase his business.

"When Texas played in the BCS championship games, that's as enthusiastic of a fan base as we've ever seen," Soni said.

Although the economy hasn't rebounded to its 2006 levels, Soni says he thinks the NCAA hospitality business will match what he did that year.

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