City getting bigger boost due to NCAA tourney draw

INDIANAPOLIS - The brackets are out and this year's NCAA men's college basketball tournament includes a site in the Circle City. After eight of the 68 teams in the dance learned they were coming to Indianapolis, area businesses noticed many of those fans were very interested in joining their schools on the trip.

There are five teams coming to Indianapolis this year that are from a state that borders Indiana. They include the University of Dayton, Northern Kentucky University and big-name programs such as the University of Michigan, University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.

Fans from Michigan and the two big schools in the Bluegrass State are expected to bring more fans than local business leaders first anticipated.

"We had a lot of reservations that were on the books to begin with, but once the seeding came out we had a surge in reservations," said J.W. Marriott general manager Phil Ray. "We're actually closed down, so rooms are getting very tight in the city."

Ray said he's looked at other rooms around downtown and noticed only a slim number of rooms were still available and that prices had begun to rise due to the demand.

"With some many teams that can drive in to the city, I think that made it more affordable for people to come in for these early round games," Ray added. "With Louisville, Kentucky, Michigan and Dayton, we saw so many wanted to come downtown and on top of that it's St. Patrick's Day so it's going to
be a wonderful weekend."

Visit Indy spokesman Chris Gahl told CBS4 that his office expects 40,000 visitors this weekend between the NCAA tournament and St. Patrick's Day events and that number could rise to as high as 60,000.

Ticket prices also appear to have been affected with the teams now slotted to come to town.

"It was about the best draw we could have hoped for," said Mike Peduto who works at Circle City Tickets. "You have two fan bases in Kentucky and Louisville nearby that really travel well and support their team."

Gahl added the city scored big with Louisville getting assigned to Indianapolis as the city markets to Louisville year-round.

"You throw Michigan in there, they're on a roll, they're going to bring some fans," Peduto said. "It was better than we could have hoped for. We were hoping to get one of those two between UK and Louisville, and we got both."

Peduto said he and others at Circle City Tickets can you guess a few of the teams who will come each March but said the NCAA selection committee can always throw a curveball each March.

On Monday, ticket prices according to Circle City Tickets' website ranged from as low as $400 to as high as $3,100 for all six games over the weekend. "The prices have roughly doubled in the last week," Peduto said.

According to Peduto, many fans will make a last minute decision to come to the tourney but will risk getting tickets at a good price.

The NCAA tournament's impact on the city's economy is roughly $15 million but Gahl said that number could easily go up this year based on the team's competing this weekend.

Games in Indianapolis take place Friday and Sunday.