In what has become a rite of Spring of sorts in Cleveland, the Mid-American Conference Tournament returns to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse March 8 - 11. That means days full of Cinderella stories and buzzer beaters to decide who gets a ticket to the Big Dance. To put it succinctly: prepare for MACtion.
Fans from all over will be at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse cheering on their alma maters and dreaming of cutting down the nets. And, while here, they will discover there’s no shortage of things to do in Cleveland for college basketball fans. Ready to take March Madness to a whole new level? Let’s get started.
Rise and shine at Yours Truly in Playhouse Square’s historic Halle Building. Try the Killit Skillet, loaded up with eggs, bacon, hash browns, sausage… you know, all the breakfast essentials. Yours Truly, with ten Northeast Ohio locations, is a CLE comfort food legend.
Take a pregame swing by GV Art + Design’s shop in Lakewood. Sure, GV usually deals in Cleveland sports apparel, but they’re also stocked up with a variety of college tees for the biggest schools in Ohio. If you’re a MAC alum looking for a new lucky shirt, GV’s probably got you covered.
Lights, camera, MACtion. An entire day of college basketball tips off at the newly-glam Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Grab a front-row seat as some of the top college players in the country strut their stuff on the biggest stage. For the early rounds of the MAC, games run all day with short breaks in between.
The FieldHouse’s Northwest Atrium is all about local celeb chef Rocco Whalen. For a quick bite, choose between the laidback deliciousness of Rocco’s or the more upscale Fahrenheit. You can’t go wrong either way, but our pick is the “Tremonster” cheesesteak from Rocco’s. Use a fork and knife — we won’t judge.
Before the next game, head up to Loudville for a few drinks at the new Budweiser Brew House. Don’t worry, the SRO bar has great sightlines for all the MAC basketball action down below. Or, if you need a b-ball break, mosey over to the Overlook Bar for a jaw-dropping look at the Cleveland skyline.
At the transformed FieldHouse, fans can get a totally different vibe and food experience with just a short spin around the concourse. In the West Neighborhood, for example, options include BBQ goodness at Elmore’s Smokehouse, tacos and burritos from Banditos, or wood-fired pies whipped up by Flour Pizza Co.
A small slice of March Madness history lives on right here in The Land. Back in 1986, the #14 seed Cleveland State Vikings captured the hearts of a nation with an improbable run to the Sweet Sixteen. Pay homage with a nightcap at Becky’s near the CSU campus. It’s basically Cleveland’s favorite college bar.
Teamwork happens off the basketball court, too. Round up a few friends and tackle the Eliot Ness Escape Room at Perplexity Games. Loosely based on real Cleveland history, this group adventure has you investigating clues to help Ness take down a corrupt city commissioner. Be safe, though, and reserve a spot ahead of time.
With the city saved and the mob’s dastardly plot foiled, fuel up at The Burnham Restaurant on Lakeside Avenue. It’s got all the usual breakfast suspects, but our pick is the CLE Eggs Benedict. Eggs Benny and Pastrami, together at last.
Time to experience the excitement of the MAC Championship. Gear up for another big day of hoops at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. There’s no better human drama than young student-athletes leaving it all out on the court in pursuit of their dreams, especially when your alma mater is in the mix.
Keep those competitive juices flowing at Jack Cleveland Casino. Before trying the slots, though, load up on a few plates of grub from Seven Chefs Buffet. And, if you can’t tear yourself away from basketball, belly up to the Legends Bar to grab a brew and catch the score on a really, really big screen.
Nostalgic for those all-nighters cramming for a college midterm? Okay, probably not. Well, here’s a way to hit the books that we can all agree on — ending the weekend with a craft beer or two at the cozy Bookhouse Brewing taproom in Ohio City.
Where to Stay
If you’re Downtown for the mid-major excitement of the MAC Tournament, you’re gonna need a place to stay after all that hoops hype. Luckily, these hotels are ready for you, each within a half-mile of the Gateway District.