WAITE PARK -- The NCAA's March Madness college basketball tournament is one of the highlights of the sports fan's year, and many came out to sports bars around the area today to take in the action.

Many sports fanatics took "sick days" from work to come out to the Ultimate Sports Bar in Waite Park, which Tom Frericks has owned for almost three decades.

"[March Madness] is the best time of the year," Frericks says. "People love this time of year, and they're going to find a way to either call in sick or take off work to enjoy today, tomorrow, and Saturday and Sunday."

Frericks says the excitement generated by the annual tournament permeates throughout the bar.

"To see an afternoon crowd on a Thursday full of energy...that's what I love about the atmosphere here, it's always energetic," Frericks says.

"You'll hear roars and you're trying to find what TV had this incredible play occur on and that has always been the most intriguing part."

The first day of the tournament was not as enjoyable for some fans whose brackets were ruined by the day's multiple upsets.

"I started out so hopeful and then my entire world came crashing down," says Chad, a fan from St. Cloud whose team lost on a last-second play.

"But at the end of the day, the excitement of college basketball and being able to hang out on a Thursday and Friday with a bunch of good friends makes it worthwhile."


Photo by Isaac Schweer, WJON