Cosplayers, NCAA Tournament fans among crowds packing downtown SLC this weekend

Posted at 6:53 PM, Mar 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-17 20:53:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Downtown Salt Lake City is booming with business this weekend from what Visit Salt Lake is calling the "perfect storm" of events.

From sports, to sci-fi costumes, to St. Patrick's Day fun--the atmosphere downtown is upbeat and lively.

"This is actually our first time in Salt Lake," said Brandon Paradise, who moved to the area recently. "We're looking forward to having a good weekend."

He dressed up as Batman and brought his son, who dressed up as a character from the video game Gears of War, to Salt Lake Comic Con FanX.

The yearly event kicked off on Friday, drawing in thousands of people dressed in cosplay.

Phoebe Tanner, from Highland, came with a group of friends who all coordinated their costumes from the video game Overwatch.

"You can just go around and see everyone dressed up in really cool outfits and stuff, and it's just really fun," she said.

Thousands of others flew in for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. On top of that, many sported green for St. Patrick's day festivities.

"It's so much fun," said Provo resident Kasie Barentine, who dressed as Belle for FanX. "I love being downtown around all the people."

The fun weekend means big bucks for local businesses and restaurants.

Shawn Stinson, Director of Communications for Visit Salt Lake, said usually FanX doesn't bring in the hotel crowds because most of the attendees are from the area.

But the NCAA Tournament is filling the void. He said nine hotels have rooms blocked out for tournament teams and attendees.

"Everyone in the downtown area is filling the restaurants, going to the bars, taking in some of the attractions, shopping at City Creek," Stinson said. "It really is an exciting time in the Downtown area."

How much money could Salt Lake see this weekend? Stinson said they aren't tallying it up yet, but he did say the number of people is reaching 25,000 to 30,000, which is similar to what Salt Lake City sees during the Outdoor Retailer show.

He added that with the influx of sports fans and cosplayers, parking will be hard to come by. Stinson suggested anyone coming into Salt Lake from the surrounding area take TRAX instead of driving.