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Fans hedge bets, book early for Final Four

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Mar. 23, 2015) -- Two weeks before the National Championship game, downtown is already booked up by fans who hope to see their team go to the end.

As hot as March Madness can be, it seems Indianapolis hotels are even hotter. FOX59 found booked up hotels downtown and soaring prices outside the city for Final Four weekend.

"Regardless of what teams show up here, those hotel rooms have been virtually sold out for weeks," Chris Gahl with Visit Indy said.

Gahl said that aside from fans who travel to the Final Four no matter the team, others are betting their team will make it. In particular, Kentucky's close fan base and undefeated team has made plans to descend on the Circle City.

That doesn't mean a trip to the Final Four is sold out, though.

John Dedman with Indiana Sports Corp said a big target will be locals who come for the events, even without a ticket to the game.

"They’re all free events for the most part, other than Fan Fest, and with that comes the opportunity to engage so many people," Dedman said.

Top of mind, though, are those four coveted spots. Teams like Kentucky, Louisville and Big 10 favorites would make for an easy drive and well-known fan base to the city. Plus all eyes are on Notre Dame as the only Indiana team still in the running.

"Wisconsin and Michigan State traveled very well to previous big 10 basketball tournaments here in Indianapolis," Dedman said.

"Certainly Notre Dame, the in-state team (is a favorite). South bend is a key tourism market for us," Gahl said.

No matter who makes it, though, Gahl and his team will target the Final Four team cities, hoping to draw in fans not only to the game but also to show up for events and practices.

"We get proactive and we actually message and market to those fan bases," Gahl said.

Those fan bases may notice a difference to the other six Final Four events Indy has hosted. This will be the first since the Super Bowl, adding better logistics and new assets like Georgia Street.

Gahl and Dedman said there's still time for fans to plan, even if it is getting more difficult. Popular sites like Airbnb are expected to draw people in, plus Gahl said some fans may stay as far as cities like Lafayette and Columbus.

"We’re confident that a visitor could sign up and if he or she’s team is making it here, they could make it here and having a memorable experience," Gahl said.