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Indianapolis enjoying glowing reviews after hosting Final Four

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Officials at the downtown JW Marriott expect to start taking down the giant NCAA bracket early Friday, depending on the weather.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 7, 2015)– Following weeks of harsh debate and the national spotlight on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indianapolis and surrounding communities are now basking in the glow of Final Four success.

“It all kind of worked really well,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. “And after a rough couple weeks heading into it I think we’ve shown was Indianapolis was all about.”

Even before Monday night’s NCAA Championship game between Duke and Wisconsin, members of the national media were singing Indy’s praises on Twitter.

“The Final Four experience in Indianapolis is tremendous,” tweeted Jon Rothstein, of CBS Sports.  “Hotels, restaurants, stadium all within a five-block area.  Best host city for event.”

“Huge kudos to Indianapolis for being incredible hosts for the NCAA Final Four,” said BYU Athletics Director Tom Holmoe.  “Great city, great people, great basketball.  Very well done.”

“Anybody wanna help me start a petition to have the final four in Indianapolis every year,” asked former Duke guard Andre Dawkins.

Of course, Duke fans and supporters have good reason to love Indianapolis.  They’ve won three NCAA championships in the Circle City.

Aside from praises from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, people in the business of covering the Final Four were praising the host city.

CBS Sports lead technical engineer, Desta Moe, spent a week and a half in Indianapolis for the network’s coverage of the Final Four.  He echoed the sentiments of many fans who say the compact, walkable downtown made for a great experience.  He said the Indianapolis Final Four surpassed last year’s in Dallas, where the actual games were played outside the host city, in Arlington.

“Since it’s in a general city, it’s more people and even the attendance turnout was pretty great, I must say,” Moe said.

Big Ten Network researcher Harold Shelton agreed.

“Indy definitely does it right,” he said.  “You can just walk everywhere.  Downtown was crazy every night.  You didn’t really have to use your car at all, I know I didn’t.”

Phil Ray, manager of the downtown JW Marriott said the hotel’s “High Velocity” restaurant did more business over the Final Four than it did during the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl.  It was in the restaurant where he heard high praise from several top NCAA executives.

“Just how well prepared we were to handle the crowds,” Ray recalled.  “And that no city does it like Indianapolis and this is their absolute favorite place to be.”

Overall, it could be Thursday or Friday before final numbers showing the Final Four’s impact are released.  City officials have predicted the Final Four will generate about $70 million for the local economy.

As for the giant NCAA tournament bracket on the JW Marriott, that will stay up for a few more days.  Ray said it will probably start coming down Friday morning, depending on the weather.