NCAA Tourney shines light on Newark

March 25, 2011 3:42:55 AM PDT
Newark is buzzing with the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament in town for the weekend.

Spectators were allowed inside the Prudential Center to watch the college teams practice on Thursday.

For some of the fans from Newark, the tournament involves more than just basketball.

"It brings in more people to see that Newark is more than just the hype that the violence that everybody thinks it is. It shows that people can come together and make a great thing in Newark," Latoya Pace said.

Having a national spotlight shine on the city is also a matter of dollars and cents, as pointed out by Mayor Corey Booker.

"We already know that between hotel tax, payroll tax, parking taxes, that the city is going to see millions of dollars of revenue," he said.

There are many shuttered businesses alongside those struggling to survive near the Prudential Center.

"If we bring more sports here, it'll bring more money here, more jobs here. It'll spark the interest of the kids. It'll make Newark a more brighter place to be," resident Leon Foster said.

Security is tight downtown, and the mayor was asked about security for the tournament.

"I would pit the safety and security of this area of our city, this downtown core, to any other arena area in the country," Booker said.

But above all, it represents the best of college basketball and provides inspiration for young local athletes watching practice.

"It shows us how practices should go at top colleges. As a basketball player, I think it's a great experience to be here and watch it," Akasha Maples said.

"It gives me inspiration to want to be there and be in one of these programs one day," Timothy Ngoge said.

Based on the projections and enthusiasm of Mayor Booker, no matter which team advances from here to the next round of the tournament, Newark wins.

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