Columbia Reacts to Mizzou Basketball Sell Out

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COLUMBIA - Fans headed to the doors of Mizzou Arena Wednesday evening to watch Mizzou men's basketball vs. Oklahoma State. The Missouri Athletic Department announced Tuesday that the game sold out, meaning the Tigers sold out eight out of nine conference games.

KOMU 8 spoke with Columbia businesses to find out if they've seen a boost during basketball games. We also wanted to find out whether Columbia businesses and residents think Mizzou's move to the SEC will draw as big of a crowd during basketball season.

Director of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau Amy Schneider said the bureau does not know what to expect from SEC travelers. "With basketball, sometimes we can't tell the direct impact as much as we can during football," Schneider said.

Many showed up around 6:30 p.m. for Wednesday's game- that's over an hour early. But one hour doesn't compare to nearly two days of waiting in line to see Mizzou men's basketball vs. Kansas. MU freshman Paige Barker camped out for that game, and she said she will still be excited for SEC games. "Now I'll get to experience the first year in the SEC," Barker said.

Campus Bar and Grill said the restaurant has seen an increase in customers since the sell out.

"We'll be busy from before the game starts to throughout the night most of the time," manager Josh Walker said.

Shakespeare's Pizza in downtown Columbia was also packed before game time.

"We know for sure that it's going to get busy, where maybe in the past we didn't know if it was or not," general manager Tobias Epstein said. "It's a lot easier to prepare that way, when you know for sure that it's going to happen." 

Shakespeare's also expects to be just as busy next season.

Drury Inn in Columbia has also seen an increase in guests, saying the hotel is "always packed" for home games.

"Usually as soon as the schedule comes out, the hotel books up," Drury employee Claire Armstrong said. "We will still plan for it being packed after we go to the SEC."

The convention and visitors bureau attributes an increase in visitors this season to fans coming from other parts of Missouri.