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‘Sweet Sixteen’ Bringing Sweet Tourist Cash To N.J.

Prudential Center (credit: CBS 2)

Prudential Center (credit: CBS 2)

NEWARK, N.J. (CBS 2) — The Garden State was hoping to score big this weekend with not one, but two big sporting events.

Only four sites each are chosen each year, and this week, March Madness descended on Newark as the NCAA Tournament pares it’s field from 16 to eight. The influx of up to 30,000 visitors for the Sweet Sixteen was expected to provide as much as $15 million to the city and surrounding area.

Four of the nation’s most prestigious basketball programs – Ohio State, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Marquette – held public workouts at the Prudential Center, and fans got a first hand look at some of the nation’s elite teams.

Newark Mayor Corey Booker said “We’re hopeful it’s going to have a tremendous impact immediately, which produces jobs and expanded economic opportunity for some of our entrepreneurs.”

In addition to the Sweet Sixteen, the new Meadowlands Stadium will host a soccer match between the U.S. Men’s national team and Argentina Saturday night. A crowd of 80,000 was expected, and area hotels have been preparing for months for this busy sports weekend.

Rooms were at a premium, with all area hotels expecting full capacity, and hospitality workers making sure their out-of-town guests, many of whom will be visiting Newark for the first time, feel right at home.

Booker’s office recruited nearly 1,000 volunteers to help make this weekend’s event a memorable one for visitors.

North Carolina and Marquette tip off at 7:15 p.m. Friday, followed by Kentucky against number one ranked Ohio State.