Philly Thrives on NCAA Women Event
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Connecticut was not the only winner in the women’s NCAA tournament. Philadelphia did just fine.
``This was a huge success in almost every way you can measure it,″ said Laura Loro, spokeswoman for the city’s host committee. ``Philadelphia raised the bar and elevated it to another level.″
This marked the first time the women’s Final Four was held in the Northeast.
``We had not been in a really big city,″ said Linda Bruno, the Atlantic 10 commissioner who chaired the tournament committee in 1995. ``This is the way I wanted it to happen. It’s great.″
The more than 40,000 fans, coaches and media were expected to bring $25 million to the city.
The event drew more reporters (669) than any previous women’s Final Four. The crowd of 20,060 at Friday’s semifinals was the second best for a national semifinal and the largest to see a college basketball game, men or women, in Pennsylvania.
The championship game Sunday night between Connecticut and Tennessee was expected to have the highest viewership for a women’s basketball game.
Don DiJulia, athletic director at St. Joseph’s, said Philadelphia organizations need to maximize the exposure from the tournament.
``We are looking for a legacy and an impact on all basketball in the city,″ he said. ``People saw this event and gained new respect for Philadelphia.″
Steve Bilsky, the Penn athletic director, thinks the attention will influence young basketball players.
``All the kids in this town realized that Philadelphia was the Mecca of women’s basketball,″ he said. ``It will have a greater impact for the younger kids than even the college teams.″
Philadelphia was the host for baseball’s All-Star game in 1996 and hockey’s All-Star game in 1992. The NBA’s All-Star game will be in Philadelphia in 2002.
In 2001, Philadelphia will be the site of a men’s basketball regional final. Next season, the women’s Final Four will be in St. Louis.