LEE COUNTY, Fla. - FGCU's rise in the NCAA Tournament may be over, but the ripple-effect on our community and businesses continues. Some saw profits double, even triple over the past few weeks. And, wink news is learning this could only be the beginning.
It started with a dunk heard around the world. Then, came calls from around the country. People wanted to know where exactly "Dunk City" was.
The Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau received on from a curious young boy. "He called up and his first question was, do you have any information about FGCU?" Communications Director Nancy Hamilton said.
"Then, he asked, do you have any information about Fort Myers because I want to convince my parents to come down."
Excitement over the FGCU Men's Basketball team soon translated into profits.
"It was the perfect storm of economic recovery," Hamilton said of FGCU's success combined with an already busy season.
"March Madness last year versus this year, it's probably a 300-400 percent increase," Keys Bar and Grill owner Kevin Douglas said.
According to Douglas, FGCU's Sweet sSxteen game was their biggest night of business ever.
"We sold about five times the amount of normal draft beer we would sell, four times the amount of liquor and probably about three times the amount of food," Douglas said.
Last March, FGCU's bookstore sold nearly $27,000 in hats and apparel. This March, they sold almost $505,000. That's an increase of more than $478,000.
At J.P. Sports, which sells those sought-after Dunk City shirts, profits jumped 30%. "We sell at least thirty shirts a day still, even after the game."
As the momentum continues, FGCU Economist Dr. Gary Jackson is exploring different ways to measure and study FGCU's economic impact on the area. He sees the school's athletic program and local tourism feeling the biggest impacts. "Peoples' identification with the area as a resort, a place to come and vacation or potentially live and so forth," Jackson explained, "this kind of media is very difficult to get, very expensive to get."