INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 10, 2016) –Thousands of fans are in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament this weekend.
Games started Wednesday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and this is the tenth year Indianapolis has hosted the event. Fans are expected to spend around $13 million at hotels, restaurants and bars this weekend, according to Visit Indy's Chris Gahl.
“(The tournament) again brings in a strong fan base and not only will put a lot of heads in beds from a visitor standpoint, but a lot of national media buzzing about the fact Indianapolis hosting the Big Ten's Men’s basketball Championship," Gahl said. “A slam dunk when you’re in the business of marketing the city.”
Michael Wrobel, a Michigan fan, goes to the tournament every year with his buddies.
"Indy is the best," Wrobel said. "I live in Chicago. I live right by the United Center, but you’re so close to things (in Indy) you actually want to do and you just can’t beat that.”
He's learned to plan ahead and booked a hotel room last year spring, but some fans who were looking for a last minute hotel downtown probably didn't get one.
“About three weeks ago our downtown hotel core was virtually sold out. That was a strong sign for us this tournament was going to be big for our city," Gahl said.
The competitiveness of the Big Ten, which has five teams ranked nationally in the top 20 including IU and Purdue, has also helped this year's event, Gahl said.
"That’s adding fuel to the fire to get more people into the city and spend money," he said. “When you look at hotel rooms and tickets inside the venue, the Purdue and IU factor has only helped sell things out.”
Gahl added the thousands of fans are starting to have to spread out to suburban hotels at Keystone at the Crossing, the airport and south side.
"Fans are having to drive 20, 30 minutes to get a hotel room, because downtown is jammed pack," he said.
Big Ten basketball fans will be spending money in Indy throughout the weekend. The championship game is Sunday at 3 p.m.
Every team is assigned a restaurant for the tournament and you can find your team's spot below!
Big Ten Restaurant pairings:
- Illinois – The Ram Restaurant & Brewery
- Nebraska – Granite City
- Penn State – Harry & Izzy’s
- Purdue – Scotty’s Brewhouse
- Wisconsin – Cadillac Ranch
- Indiana – Kilroy’s Bar & Grill
- Ohio State – Champps
- Michigan – O’Reilly’s Irish Bar and Restaurant
- Michigan State – Slippery Noodle Inn
- Iowa – Indianapolis Colts Grille
- Northwestern – Champions
- Minnesota – Hard Rock Café
- Maryland – Buffalo Wild Wings
- Rutgers – Ike and Jonesy’s