BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As the teams arrive ahead of tip off of the first NCAA Tournament in Birmingham in 15 years, city officials say the Magic City is more than ready to roll out the red carpet and welcome tens of thousands of fans from across the country.

Karla Khodanian, the chief communications officer for the Birmingham Business Alliance, said that in just the last year, the city has captured national attention as a top spot for events from the World Games to the Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle show and now this.

“I would say the energy in Birmingham is giddy …. That entire footprint of Citiwalk and Uptown is a phenomenal welcoming doorstep to our city,” Khodanian said. “This is a great chance for Birmingham to shift perceptions of what someone may or may not think of our community.”

Cornell Wesley, the director for the city’s Office of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, said they’re ready for the action, and the city is encouraging small businesses to stay open later hours to capitalize on bonus dollars and to accommodate the crowds.

“No one could have scripted a better story to have Alabama and Auburn playing in Birmingham, along with Houston, another number one seat,” Wesley said.

He estimated around 30 to 40,000 visitors to flood Birmingham during the tournament, creating a $7 million impact. For people who can’t get tickets, this Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. they’re hosting a free screening of the games at Lynn Park in front of City Hall. There will also be food trucks and celebrity performances.

In the meantime, Wesley also shared what he thinks shows off the best of Birmingham.

“To really stimulate your heart, there’s the civil rights district and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute … If you’re looking to stimulate your belly, let’s talk about what’s happening in the district in Uptown, or even on the Southside, and of course, we have several Beard Award-winning restaurants,” Wesley said.

For Birmingham residents — both sports and non-sports fans alike — no matter who wins on the court, this whole event is a slam dunk for their city.

“It’s a really big deal. It’s gonna bring a lot of people out in the city, generate a lot of money,” said Daniel Rives.

“There’s so much great stuff here that people don’t even realize, so I think it will be great to have more people come and realize that Birmingham is a great place with a lot to offer,” said UAB School of Optometry professional student Ginny Morgan.