ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Though the ACU Wildcats were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by UCLA, the national exposure they brought to the Key City won’t be going away anytime soon.
2019 was the first time any ACU team made it that far in NCAA play, but the 2021 wildcats made it one round further than the 2019 team, and the excitement was tangible both times.
“It was shocking because we had never experienced anything like that,” said Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau Sports Coordinator Tiffany Nichols.
Along with possible new students for the university, this notoriety could bring more sporting events to Abilene.
“I don’t think people realize how much Abilene is a sports city,” Nichols said. “Bringing in sporting events is what generates the most income for ‘heads in beds’ kind of things in Abilene.”
But this attention isn’t just theoretical. Along with the overloading of ACU’s website due to heavy online traffic, the ACVB has seen a boost in activity as well, according to ACVB Communications Coordinator Kelly Thompson.
“ACU’s website refers to our website, so when parents and students are researching Abilene, we get more hits as they’re researching hotels to stay at. So there’s a ripple effect for sure,” Thompson says. “What’s good for ACU is good for Abilene.”