Fewer than 1,000 playoff tickets left, but business concerns remain

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (December 31, 2014) - If you're still planning on buying tickets for Sunday's Wild Card Playoff game between the Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals, you should hurry! At 4 p.m. Wednesday, Colts officials said fewer than 1,000 were still available.

Businesses in downtown Indy are preparing for the crowds, but some restaurant and hotel managers have expressed concerns about this weekend.

"We're excited that they're in the postseason, but as far as the timing of the game and the opponent, it's not the strongest draw in terms of weekend business for the city," says Paul Kiley, director of sales and marketing at the Marriott Indianapolis Downtown. "We would have loved to have seen a later game that would have brought people downtown and kept them here longer for pre-celebration."

That could cut down on the number of people stopping by the hotel's two restaurants, but Kiley says fewer people are making hotel reservations this year, too. He says that's partially to blame on the fact that Cincinnati is only a few hours away from Indianapolis.

"It's a close enough drive, and people have probably traveled a lot over the holidays already," he says. "The game is over by 4 or 4:30, and then they can certainly head home and make the drive home rather than make it a night. If it had been a night game, they would have been more inclined to check in and stay for the night in hotels."

The Marriott did, however, book all of its rooms for New Year's Eve.

"We've always done well on New Year's Eve, but historically we had rooms to sell," explains Kiley. "We've got the big downtown party that's happening on Georgia Street, and we feel that's driving some business. So we're excited to be at capacity for the evening."

At The Pub on Georgia Street, there is less concern about crowds. Managing Partner Gordon Coke says playing Cincinnati could actually help bring in business.

"Cincinnati seems to be really good at traveling. Whether it's football or basketball, they travel really well. I think we'll probably see a lot of fans Saturday night going into Sunday since it's an early game at 1:00.  I think it will be a really good crowd,"

He expects a lot of people to be walking around downtown this weekend, despite the chilly temperatures.

"You'll see a lot of foot traffic with Cincinnati," says Coke. "They're used to the cold weather like we are, so they tend to get out more and walk more than some of the other teams do."

For many downtown businesses, a surge in out of town customers when a big sporting event takes place provides a much needed bump in revenue.

"It really helps financially, because last week with the holiday was pretty slow. So hopefully this week we'll be able to pick up and make up for what we lost last week. I think it's going to be a great, great week for everybody in all the hotels, bars and restaurants downtown."