Monday Night Football has downtown Indianapolis buzzing

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The city of Indianapolis will host its first Monday Night Football game since 2010 tonight.

The atmosphere in the downtown area has been buzzing with excitement since early Monday morning. Fans wearing Colts gear flocked to Monument Circle and Georgia Street for pep rallies and live entertainment. Many of them traveled from far away to see the Colts take on the Philadelphia Eagles.

"I fly here every year with my mother," said Matthew Sanders, a Colts fan from Los Angeles. "So this is my 7th year. I'm 6 and 1 in Indy, so I have a feeling that we're going to win tonight."

Several Colts fans from Ontario, Canada attended the Georgia Street lunchtime pep rally.

"We went out last night," said Gary Vukosa, a Colts fan from Ontario. "We got to see a lot of Colts stuff, check out Lucas Oil before we came down here this morning, so it was pretty cool."

The nationally televised game also brought in plenty of Eagles fans from different regions.

"We got in Saturday morning, and we're going to check out Saturday morning," said Jarrett Barnhouse, an Eagles fan from Ohio. "And we've had a great time here. This is a wonderful town."

"Came in yesterday sometime around early afternoon," said Anthony Mascoveto, an Eagles fan from New Jersey. "We hung out, had dinner at St. Elmo Steakhouse. Great place."

It all adds up to a shot in the arm for downtown businesses.

"There was people coming in from Philadelphia as early as yesterday and we had a really busy book of business yesterday as well," said Craig Hughes, President of St. Elmo Steakhouse and Harry & Izzy's. "And tonight, it's just going to be lined out the door."

Downtown hotels are seeing the added business too.

"Pretty much the whole downtown is completely compressed and sold out," said Phil Ray, General Manager of the JW Marriott. "So if there are rooms left, there's only a handful of rooms left."

The national exposure of the Monday Night Football broadcast is also a boost for the city's image.

"We know that coming in and out of commercials, there will be shots of the city skyline, shots of St. Elmo's and Monument Circle and White River State Park," said Visit Indy spokesman Chris Gahl.

Gahl said a 30 second ad spot during Monday Night Football costs about $400,000. He and other city leaders estimate the four-hour broadcast will include between 4 and 5 minutes of "beauty shots" around downtown Indianapolis. That adds up to about $3.2 million in promotion time for the city.

"And we don't have to pay for that," Gahl said. "The Colts have enabled us to be on national TV again in front of, we estimate, more than 15-million viewers."

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