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February 22, 2019

Brew pub to takeover Hartford's Pratt St. during 'March Madness' games

HBJ Photo | Joe Cooper Pratt Street in downtown Hartford will feature a brew pub when the 2019 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament returns to XL Center on March 21 and March 23.

A pop-up brew pub will canvass Pratt Street in downtown Hartford later next month when the 2019 NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament returns to the XL Center.

The retail hub will be closed to traffic during the so-called “March Madness” tournament games on Thursday, March 21, and Saturday, March 23, from noon to 9 p.m., according to event organizers the Hartford Business Improvement District (Hartford BID) and recently revived Hartford Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to local distillery Hartford Flavor Co., the all-day festival will feature beers from each of the city’s four breweries: City Steam Brewery Cafe, Hanging Hills Brewing Co., Thomas Hooker Brewery and Hog River Brewing Co.

Adding to the occasion, TVs airing March Madness games across the country will be placed on the north end of Pratt Street and the Greater Hartford Arts Council will position artists along the roadway.

The pub on Pratt Street will be free to enter, with patrons paying for individual drinks.

Approximately 25,000 visitors are expected to attend games at XL in late March for the first- and second-rounds, producing at least $7.7 million for Greater Hartford’s economy, officials have said.

If the brew pub is able to garner even a fraction of those attendees, organizers would be happy.

“We are hoping a good chunk of those fans will come to Pratt Street,” said Chip McCabe, director of marketing for local nonprofit Hartford BID.

Eight teams will play at XL for four first-round games on March 21, with the winners advancing to second-round play on March 23. Two teams will advance to the next round of NCAA tournament play the following weekend.

The hope is that fans, and visitors downtown, will stop by the brew pub in between afternoon and evening game sessions, which could lend a gap in play between 45 minutes to three hours, McCabe said.

Teams will be selected to play in the first and second rounds during CBS Sports' "Selection Sunday" on Sunday, March 17.

Hartford last hosted the men's March Madness tournament in 1998 at then Hartford Civic Center.

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