By Kerri Corrado

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The NCAA Tournament is an economic slam dunk for Philadelphia as the city bounces back from the pandemic. The Wells Fargo Center was the big stage Friday night.

Restaurants and bars in the city are benefiting from the crowds and they say they were ready for the rush.

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Fans are fired up in Philadelphia for March Madness. The energy and spirit are contagious in the city.

“Definitely geared up for this weekend because we knew thousands of people were coming to Philadelphia,” McGillin’s owner Christopher Mullins said.

Mullins owns Philadelphia’s oldest bar, McGillin’s Olde Ale House. He says this is one of the best weekends they had since 2019.

He even hung the Saint Peter’s Peacock flag next to his beloved Villanova.

“We loved that they had the Peacock flag here, it’s amazing,” a woman said.

“It’s been a long time coming. They haven’t been in a game like this since 1968 in The Garden when they beat Duke, so we are down here to see another big victory,” a man said.

“It’s just fun to see the other alumni from Saint Peter’s. It feels like we are home,” a man said.

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“It’s very exciting for them be in Philly and we a bar that’s supporting the underdog,” Mullins said.

Over at Victory Brewing Company, they too are thrilled to see the city come to life.

“We are loving it because it drives in extra traffic for us,” Victory General Manager Conor Martin said. “The whole goal is to have as many people who aren’t at the game in Philadelphia here at the taproom enjoying the food and hospitality.”

Martin says they were ready for the NCAA rush.

“Our staff has been trained since we opened last October to be really good at handling high volume,” he said.

The big dance is bringing a big, much-needed boost to the city.

“Having the Sweet 16 here in Philly has been awesome so far. Lots of fans are coming in to visit the city which is what we desperately need,” Mullins said.

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The fun is far from over. Fans say they will be enjoying the weekend in Philadelphia and for Peacock fans, they are keeping the celebration going.