GURNEE, Ill. (WLS) -- It is truly March Madness. The first day of the NCAA tournament falls on St. Patrick's Day.
After struggling during the pandemic for the last couple of years, this is the type of crowd that brings a smile to the faces of bar and restaurant owners.
"It feels like Christmas when you got NCAA's and St. Pat's at the same time," said Tim Borden, with Ala Carte Entertainment.
There may be a few people at Finn McCools in Schaumburg who are supposed to be at work instead of watching basketball.
Beth O'Donnell, who is cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the tournament, said she is legit.
"I took today and tomorrow off, also," O'Donnell said. "It's a two-day celebration."
Whether they are at the bar or at work, a recent study suggests 48% of workers do their NCAA brackets at work, and March Madness costs American companies about $2.4 billion an hour in lost productivity. That's more than $16 billion for the entire tournament.
But one workplace expert said given the current competition for quality employees, companies should embrace the tournament.
In Gurnee, they are putting the finishing touches on a huge new concept for watching the games after converting a theater into a giant sports bar, complete with a 40-foot screen, comfortable recliners, and a full bar and food menu. They are looking at adding these at many of the 90 Marcus theaters around the Midwest.
"It's different than a theater because the lights are up a little bit, you can talk to your friends -- it's not like a movie where you sit there quietly," said Greg Marcus, CEO of Marcus Theaters.
They plan to have this open year-round, but they were rushing to get it ready for March Madness. In fact, they're expecting a big crowd for the Illinois and Loyola games Friday.