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Kansas City’s NCAA Midwest Regional already sold out, eyed as a big business opportunity

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The metro is about to get a second round of college basketball excitement.

Next week's NCAA Basketball Midwest Regionals are the final stop for teams hoping to make the Final Four, and the games at Sprint Center will likely make a small fortune for the metro, just days after the Big 12 Championship wrapped up.

If all goes according to gameplan, these two weekends of major college basketball could rake in a combined $24M for the metro. The economic potential for next weekend's Midwest Regionals, which begin on Thursday, March 23rd, could grow even bigger, if local favorites Kansas and Iowa State advance, and return to Sprint Center.

Kansas City's Convention and Visitors Bureau says the Big 12 Championship was another big score for college hoops in the metro, generating $13.6M in local money. Derek Mike Sharpe, director of business development with the Kansas City Sports Commission, works closely with the NCAA during negotiations to bring basketball tournaments to the metro.

"Visiting fans say it's a great place to host the championship. They have a wonderful time," Sharpe told FOX 4 News on Monday.

Derek Klaus with the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau projects the NCAA Midwest Regionals will generate $10M in local revenue, and potentially more if KU and ISU are included in the four teams that will play downtown.

"We're excited that Kansas City is one of only two venues in the whole country that are already sold out. The other is Madison Square Garden, which has a much larger population base to draw from," Sharpe added.

Businesses around the Power and Light District are talking NCAA Tournament brackets, and preparing for a second dose of basketball-based revenue.

"This bracket worked out absolutely great for us," Derek Owen, manager at Flying Saucer Draft Emporium, said on Monday.

Owen says his restaurant, which specializes in craft beers, had patrons standing in line during last week's Big 12 Championship week. He believes the NCAA Midwest Regionals could replicate that kind of business.

"That bracket couldn't have spilled out any better for us. Iowa State fans travel really well. KU is the one-seed. That's kind of our homegrown crowd. We're looking forward to everyone coming down," Owen said.

Iowa State and Kansas both need two tournament wins to reach the Regionals. Tickets for the games at Sprint Center are sold out, but practices are open to the public.