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Philly Thrives on NCAA Women Event

April 3, 2000

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.

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