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NAIA tournament wraps up in Billings, considered a success

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(MTN News) (MTN News)
BILLINGS -

March Madness wound down in the Billings on Tuesday night after a week of NAIA Women's basketball.

For organizers, the first of a two-year contract is considered a success thanks in large part to the community.

The tournament's attendance through the week of games totaled close to 10,000 people.

Visit Billings, in partnership with Rocky Mountain College and the Metra, invested more than $150,000 to host the tournament.

The goal was to break even, while at the same time injecting more than $1.7 million into the Billings economy.

With only five months to organize, Visit Billings said this proved the viability of Billings for events this size.

"This is as big of an event as we've done. The fact that we can do this, execute it and the community is going to meet us beyond halfway speaks volumes on what our future holds," said Visit Billings Executive Director Alex Tyson.

Organizers plan to meet this Friday for a full debrief including constructive criticism on how to improve the event next year.

Teams involved in the tournament also appreciated the crowds.

Last year in Kansas City, the tournament drew a total attendance of only 3,000 people.

Oklahoma City University's title-winning coach Bo Overton said the tournament atmosphere in Billings was top notch.

"We were in the tournament last year in Kansas City and there was nobody at the games. Everybody worked hard and all that, but there was 3,000 to 4,000 people tonight. It was a great atmosphere, just a super championship atmosphere and you got to give it to the city and everybody that put this on," Overton said.

The NAIA returns to Billings next year.

The Big Sky Conference basketball  tournament is also up for bid in 2019. 

A final decision on whether that tournament stays in Reno or moves elsewhere is expected in April.

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