INDIANAPOLIS — Restaurants, bars and hotels in Downtown Indianapolis are preparing for large crowds this weekend as the city hosts two major sporting events on the same day.
The Crossroads Classic, where the state’s college basketball teams face off, is taking place at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Saturday. The Purdue Boilermakers will take on the Butler Bulldogs in Game 1 at 11:30 a.m. The Indiana Hoosiers will play the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 2:30 p.m.
Those games are happening just hours before the Indianapolis Colts take on the rival New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium in a sold-out event. That game is set to start at 8:20 p.m.
Restaurants and bars expect big crowds as people flock downtown.
“It’s going to be a primetime day and it’s gonna be busy,” Craig Emmons, owner of the SOS Pub near Gainbridge Fieldhouse, said.
Emmons says because the events are spread out, the crowds will likely be non-stop all day.
“I’m expecting to be busy probably around 10 or 11 o’clock and everyone needs to get to the bars fast because it’s gonna be a one in one out kind of feel,” Emmons said.
Along with restaurants and bars, hotels are seeing the impact of the games as well.
“We are very lucky to be fully booked on Saturday night with the change of the Patriots game,” Tina Crawford, marketing director at Hotel Indy, said.
Hotel Indy just opened their doors at the end of October. With the year the hospitality industry has had, Crawford said the crowds are welcome sight.
“The ebb and flow of Indianapolis is very much hinged on the sports teams,” Crawford said. “I think we are seeing a faster recovery than some of the other cities the Louisville‘s the Cincinnati’s and the others have.”
Indy’s reputation as a sport city has been a big boost in securing big events. The city was host to the entire NCAA basketball tournament and hosted the BIG10 Football Championship earlier this month.
“Having all these big crowds coming Downtown and supporting our local businesses is so revitalizing for everyone,” Allie Moffett with Downtown Indy Inc. said.
The city is also set to host the College Football Playoff Championship in January.
“It’s just making everyone hopeful for what this next year can bring,” Moffett said.
Downtown businesses say they don’t know what they’d do if they didn’t have big events drawing crowds through their doors.
“We need it, every bar needs it after the Covid and all the stuff that happened downtown and finally all the events are coming back,” Emmons said. “It’s helped every bar owner, bar people around here staff too.”
If you’re not a sports fan, there are shows going on at the Old National Centre as well. However, everywhere you go you should expect crowds to be there as well.