ACC Tournament bringing in business

ACC Tournament bringing in business

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The ACC women's basketball tournament is being held in Horry County for the first time and it is bringing more than just screaming fans.

The event kicked off Wednesday and is expected to generate plenty of revenue for the Grand Strand, including money for hotels and local businesses.

JoEllen Knott is one of those fans and said she's been coming to the ACC women's basketball tournament for 14 years.

When the location of the tournament changed to South Carolina back in October, she planned to come anyway and said she's happy with the new setup. Knott is originally from Indiana but has a soft spot for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

"My sister is the head coach of Georgia Tech," Knott said. "She's from Indiana but we're big Georgia Tech fans and follow her to the tournament."

This is the first year Knott has followed her sister to the Grand Strand, but it's not her first visit to the area.

"We've been here on vacation before, about 10 years ago, but this is the first year we've ever been here for the tournament," she said. "We've been to Greensboro for several years, so this is exciting, the smaller feel to the gym and everything."

The gym at Coastal Carolina University's HTC Center is several times smaller than the former location of the tournament, but organizers said that was to be expected.

"You know, there's things you're going to have to deal with. We've kind of got those isolated into subsections if you will," said Matt Hogue, CCU's athletics director. "You know there may be an IT problem or a game management problem. There may be a ticket issue or a parking issue."

No matter the issues, Hogue said the event doesn't simply benefit the school.

"I don't think there's any question this is great for our area," he said. "It's great for the economic impact that we can bring to the Grand Strand. That's something that we take very seriously and we know that's part of the initiative that we have across our area."

While the crowds were not exactly overwhelming Wednesday afternoon, Hogue said it was just day one of a weekend-long tournament.

"It'll get more exciting. I think the fans will get more excited when fanfest is full-fledged tomorrow (Thursday). And that's where a lot of the vendors will start leveraging that opportunity, and finding even more things to do and more amenities," Hogue said.

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