Wildcats failure to reach tournament dampens enthusiasm

Businesses take hit during March Madness

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The Frog and Firkin’ Restaurant and Bar on University Avenue just outside the Main Gate has 30 television sets ready for customers to watch March Madness.

It’s the same as it does every year. In most years, the sets are essential for the crowds, especially when the University of Arizona plays.

However, 2019 is not one of those years, as the U of A missed the tournament, only the third time since 1986.

“We have to be more creative this year,” said Brittney Gregory, the bartender and manager of the restaurant. “I have enough TVs that anyone can watch any game they want.”

As the tournament started, the crowds were sparse.

University Avenue, generally at tournament time, has banners, plenty of red and blue, pedestrians dressed in colors and folks selling souvenirs. This year, it’s business as usual, no signs of the tournament.

“I think it’s less lively than it normally is,” Gregory said. “But we will see something.”

People still fill out brackets, make small wagers and will be interested in watching some of the other games.

“I’m rooting for the Huskies,” said Joe, visiting from Prescott. “I graduated from Washington but I pull for any Pac-12 team.”

The fact the Wildcats are out “doesn’t make any difference,” he said.

But Nashville native, now Wildcat Ryan Hudson says he will watch because I have “still got a bracket and hoping to win some money.”

And there’s always hope.

“It’s a little disappointing but I’m optimistic about next year,” he said. “We got a good class coming in so I’m pretty excited for them.”

As for Gregory, “we will just try to make it as fun as we can.”

The bar will do drink specials and “try to make it the place to be,” she said. “Basketball just happens to be on.”

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