Room prices rise as many downtown hotels sell out
prepared for a bustling crowd with added staff, and extra roast beef and wings.
“The beer cooler is full,” she said.
The Doubletree Hotel by Hilton in Amherst will host the University of Massachusetts Minutemen when they get into town this evening. The players, staff, coaches and family will rent 75 rooms until at least Friday morning. If they win their semifinal game today, they’ll stay for Saturday’s national championship game and then check out Sunday.
“That’s a great piece of business for my hotel,” said Olivia Galante, director of sales at the Doubletree Hotel by Hilton in Amherst. “This does not happen often for our property. It will make our month, moneywise.”
Though the hotel has plenty of rooms, it has less meeting space than most other hotels, which prevents it from booking as many large corporate groups as its competitors. Sports teams, such as the Girls National USA Hockey team it recently hosted, are a welcome windfall.
It’s not just the rooms. The players and their entourages plan extras with the hotel’s banquet staff: breakfast, pregame meals, dinners. And fans can be counted on to eat and drink in the hotel’s bar and restaurant.
As of midday Wednesday, many hotels downtown were sold out, including the J.W. Marriott at HarborCenter, the Hampton Inn and the Courtyard Marriott. Hilton properties, including the Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites, were booked up as far out as Hamburg, East Aurora, Lockport and Niagara Falls. There are other vacancies, but few rooms are left.
Prices are high, too. The Adam’s Mark, which is advertised for $90 the following Thursday, is going for $258 today. The Westin, usually $175, is running $371. And the Fairfield Inn & Suites at the Buffalo Airport, regularly $101, is booking at a whopping $548.
The only other time Buffalo hosted the games was in 2003, when tickets sold out a year in advance. Hotels have had contracts to host teams signed for two years.
Tickets for the three games haven’t sold out yet, but as many as 14,000 people are expected to attend each session today and Saturday. Many of those attendees are from out of town and will need Ubers, hotels and places to eat.
Fans are expected to account for 5,300 hotel room nights in downtown Buffalo and generate about $3.9 million in economic impact, according to Visit Buffalo Niagara. That dollar amount factors in transportation, lodging, food, beverage and entertainment costs based on an estimate of teams, NCAA officials and staff, media and fans that are expected to attend. The organizing committee that helped bring the games shared a higher $6.1 million estimate that factored in more fan data for ticket sales and hotel bookings.
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, who made a pitch to host the Frozen Four with Mayor Byron Brown and representatives from Canisius College and Niagara University, said the competition was “stiff” to win the games, but he believes Buffalo has proven itself worthy.
“As a community, I just hope that we do roll out the carpet. It really is one of the premiere events that the NCAA has, and it’s very rare for a community like Buffalo to receive it twice in, basically, a 20-year period, “Poloncarz said.
“It just goes to show that the NCAA believes in our community by bringing it back here,” he said.