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March Madness tips off in Sacramento

To make sure fans feel safe, Sacramento police has extra officers on foot, bike and horseback patrolling the area.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — March Madness is in full effect, and Golden 1 Center has been packed all day with fans as it gets underway in Sacramento. Thousands are expected to pack the arena for the six games being played over two days.

While it's difficult to get an exact attendance number because more people are still arriving for Saturday, Visit Sacramento knows they have 11,000 hotel rooms booked. If it’s two people per room, that's 22,000, which would push Sacramento over last year’s game average, according to numbers for the NCAA.

Scott Ford, with Downtown Sacramento Partnership, said it’s a welcome sight for businesses in downtown Sacramento.

“Obviously, we are thrilled as a region to welcome back the NCAA tournament,” said Ford.

Thursday kicks off round one of the road to the final four -- four games played Thursday and two on Saturday.

Nevada fan Seth Maurer picked Virginia to win it all.

“I got to love the weather right now cause we are coming from Reno. It’s been a tough winter,” said Maurer.

Ford says the games are a big opportunity for the city.

“Sacramento is in the national and international spotlight being able to host this tournament,” said Ford.

And to make sure fans feel safe, Sacramento police has extra officers on foot, bike and horseback patrolling the area. They even have a specialty unit dedicated to being inside Golden 1 Center.

“While we understand there was a police presence earlier in the city today, it was a safety presence and everything worked out safe in that incident,” said Sergeant Zac Eaton.

The incident on I Street happened Thursday morning just blocks from the arena.

Police say a man refused to move his truck, blocking the entrance to the federal courthouse. Several blocks around the courthouse were closed while police worked to de-escalate the situation.

“We’ve had some challenges with violence since the K street shooting. It’s no secret, but those events are outliers and if you look at what’s happening in Sacramento right now, you can tell,” said Eaton.

Fans in the area said they felt safe walking around. Kyle Sisk was excited that Sacramento is hosting. 

“I feel very safe everyone is so nice here,” said Sisk.

The NCAA will return to Sacramento this summer when the city hosts track and field.


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