No rooms at Inns, hoops fans hear

Published February 9, 2007

The phones keep ringing at hotels throughout downtown Tampa. And the basketball fans on the other end, stuck in cold and snowy places to the north, keep hearing the same two words: Sold out.

With the Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball tournament a month away, rooms for miles around the St. Pete Times Forum are gone or going fast.

"I've just been amazed," said Cyndi Layton, director of sales and marketing at the Westin on Harbour Island, where all 299 rooms are reserved, mostly for Maryland players and fans.

"We've been sold out for a while. It's probably one of the more popular events the city has hosted, and I've been here nine years."

Those years included a Stanley Cup Finals, a Super Bowl and first and second round games of the NCAA basketball tournament.

The ACC long ago reserved about 3,500 rooms in the area for the 12 teams, alumni, officials, media and others associated with the tournament. Most of those are booked, and the ACC has requested additional rooms. That doesn't include hundreds of other fans who have made reservations independently.