The University of Northern Colorado Bears’ run through the Big Sky Conference championship and into the first round of the NCAA Tournament has put the area on the national college basketball map and was a boon for Greeley-area businesses. Just four seasons ago—the Bears’ first as a Division I team—the school went 4-24, and the outlook was dim. Now, they’re looking like perennial contenders in the Big Sky Conference, a turnaround that’s helping Greeley’s reputation evolve from a sleepy cow town to a legit college basketball center (Greeley Tribune).

In the short term, the team’s run in the last few weeks helped pump an estimated $350,000 into the local economy. Hotels, area restaurants, and bars report being packed over the last few weeks, helping bring in revenues equal to or higher than March 2010 (Tribune). Given the rapid upward trajectory of the Bears, fans and business owners are hoping for years of sustained growth.