KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Crowds roaming downtown KC may be less than a fourth of what the district would see in a normal year, but hotels and other businesses are optimistic.

Kathy Nelson, the head of the Kansas City Sports Commission, said she was encouraged by the active basketball fans wandering through Power and Light.

"I'm seeing a lot of people walking around without a ticket because they want to feel the energy back," Nelson said.

At Rally House, people browsed jerseys and t-shirts. It was a busier atmosphere than Mike Cowell, an employee, had seen in months.

"You can feel it in the air. I've seen people from different teams, different states," Cowell said.

In a normal year the tournament would bring $12-14 million in revenue to the area. Hotels and restaurants in the district missed out on nearly all that revenue this year.

With only 3,800 fans at each game this year, 2021 is also slim compared to most tournaments.

But Brian Johnson, the manager of Loews Hotel, said the numbers this year signal a turning point, and consumers' willingness to travel once again.

"It's another indicator that things are going in the right direction and improving," Johnson said. "It's important to remember it's not just about filling hotel rooms and hospitality. It's about supporting other jobs and getting people back to work."

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