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Big weekend for Grizzlies basketball should boost Memphis economy

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 9:48 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - City tourism officials will tell you that weekend games at FedExForum always bring out big numbers and this weekend is a doubleheader for the Memphis Grizzlies.

However, when you throw in an all-star and a red-hot team, you’re talking about a slam dunk for a city trying to rebound after a tough couple of years.

Even on a bitter cold Memphis night, nothing would stop these fans from cheering on the Grizzlies and its newest all-star, Ja Morant.

Included in that number of Grizz fans is the Duckworth family.

“We’re from Southern Illinois, so it’s a three-hour drive for us,” said Chris Duckworth.

These half-season ticket holders travel nearly 200 miles to watch the grizzlies play.

“They’re young. They’re fun. Ja Morant, he played just a couple of hours from us, so we got to watch him play in person in college. So, we just kind of tagged along and this is our closest NBA place,” said Duckworth.

The Grizzlies are certainly a regional team, drawing in fans for miles outside of the Bluff City.

“More fans, more wins, all-star, you know the recipe is coming together for a very successful return after the dismal COVID year that we experienced over the last year and a half,” said Kevin Kane, CEO of Memphis Tourism who says the Memphis Grizzlies is helping the city to recover.

Kane says tourism and hospitality is a $4 billion industry, but during the height of the pandemic, the city went from 14 million visitors to five and a half million visitors two years ago.

Kane says they are already seeing the positive effects of a winning basketball franchise.

It can be a great boost to the local economy and to Memphis’ national profile.

Morant’s jersey is flying off the shelves. NBA.com has Morant’s as the eighth most popular jersey on its site.

“We’re just so fortunate that Ja Morant and all these guys ended up in Memphis because I think we’re in store for some exciting days for the next few years,” said Kane.

The Grizzlies have another game Saturday night against Washington.

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