Vols NCAA Tournament run brings unexpected boost to local businesses


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Fans turned Knoxville orange Friday night, but many restaurant and bar owners were seeing green.

Mike Clark, owner of the Goal Post Tavern, says they've been unseasonably packed for the last few Tennessee basketball games.

"Last Sunday when we played -- normally we're closed on Sundays -- we opened. And that was the last day of spring break. We had a pretty good crowd here," he said.

But even that didn't compare to the crowds for the Sweet Sixteen game.

"This is something I haven't experienced in a while," Johnny Mary says.

Vols fans say the past week and a half has been more like a football atmosphere. And they can't remember the last time basketball drew this much of a crowd.

"UT hasn't been to something this serious in years, so it's just an awesome time around campus. Everyone is out to support the Vols today," Austin Stuck says.

"We're all just so excited to be out here to support our team," Sierra Williams says.

It's an atmosphere that definitely caught local bars by surprise.

"We had to bring in extra bar staff for us. We brought in like two extra bartenders," Cool Bean's bartender Brandon McDermott says.

And while the game -- and season -- came to a disappointing end, most fans are still optimistic.

"I'm proud of us for making it this far," Alexis Resites says.

"And when it comes down to it, it brought all the fans out, everyone was excited. A win or a loss, it brings Rocky Top out," Sarah Weinstein-Bacal says.

And fans Local 8 News talked to after the game say they still support Cuonzo Martin.

"We weren't even suppose to be here. He's our coach. Win or lose, we gotta support him," Chris Cheek says.

"It was a great accomplishment and they should be proud of that. And Counzo's awesome," Courtney Ciesielski says.

While the men's basketball season is done, the Lady Vols are still in the NCAA Tournament. And business owners say they expect the crowds to continue.


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