Final Four's positive vibrations for state, school - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Final Four's positive vibrations for state, school

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Badgers basketball team's dance to the Final Four stands to increase the prestige of both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the state.

Wisconsin Deputy Tourism Secretary Dave Fantle tells 27 News successful sports team go along way in image-building.

"We can't have enough of positive branding," Fantle says.

The tourism department's current commercial on Wisconsin as a destination features basketball great Kareem Abdul Jabbar in a spoof of his role in the comedy, Airplane. Fantle says there are no current plans to incorporate the Badgers' successful run in the men's tournament in a tourism spot, but says the department's online content is being modified to highlight the Final Four accomplishment.

"It's hard to put your arms what that's worth, but it's substantial," Fantle tells 27 News.

Fantle does quantify the impact of Milwaukee being one of the host cities to the first weekend of the tournament's games, and the Badgers playing in those games in Milwaukee and drawing their large, fan base to the city. Fantle says the estimated economic impact was $5 million.

The team's success is expected to spread, positive vibrations on its campus as well.

UW-Madison associate chancellor Vince Sweeney says applications to the university spiked after the Badger football team won Rose Bowl championships in 1999 and 2000, and he expects a similar effect related to the Final Four berth.

Fundraising for UW-Madison projects and programs is also expected to receive a bump from the basketball success, but down the line.

"In the successful development campaign, it takes awhile. You need to build relationships," Sweeney says. "It is a whole lot easier to have a conversation with an alumn, a potential donor, when the mood is uplifting, when you're in the Final Four," Sweeney tells 27 News. "Successful athletics leads to successful development actions, which lead to successful fundraising."

Sweeney describes the Final Four berth as serving as a "gateway" to the university for many. He says it evens has the potential to influence the recruitment of faculty candidates in some cases.

Sweeney stresses faculty hiring and donor development  hinge on the university's academic and institutional standing, but athletics success such as the basketball team's Final Four run enhances the overall university experience and image.

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