Hotel development in downtown Memphis on display as AAC tournament begins Thursday

WATCH: Hotel growth in downtown Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis tourism officials are expecting as many as 6,000 this weekend for the American Athletic Conference (AAC) men’s basketball tournament.

The city hosted the inaugural tournament in 2014 and since then, a lot has changed in downtown, especially the number of hotels.

“We have a few new hotels, we a lot more coming. A lot more new restaurants, a lot of development in the South Main area and the south end of downtown,” said Kevin Kane, President of Memphis Tourism.

Content Continues Below

Kane said he’s anticipating $4.5 to $6 million in economic impact from this weekend. He believes the recent upgrades in downtown will lead to some return visits.

Download the FOX13 Memphis app to receive alerts from breaking news in your neighborhood.

Trending stories:

“It’s a statistic, a fact that when people go to a city for a sporting event, sometimes that’s their first exposure to the city and you know the impressions that they make will hopefully leave them to come back and visit again,” said Kane.

Basketball fans aren’t the only ones excited for this weekend.

Bars on Beale Street are gearing up for the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Jay Wells at Silky’s O’Sullivan said it’s rare when a major sporting event concedes with another big downtown event.

“We’re the only Irish themed bar on the street so that helps a little bit, well that helps a lot,” said Wells. “It’s a big day for us. It ranks up there with some of the biggest days of the year.”

Memphis is set to host the Elite Eight NCAA tournament games in 2021. Tourism officials said there will be another 1,500 hotel rooms in downtown by then.