INDIANAPOLIS — Fans from across the Midwest packed in to downtown Indianapolis on Saturday night to watch the Michigan Wolverines take on the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Each team’s base confident they’d come out on top.
“It’s going to be a tough game, I think the Hawks will win but I think it’s going to be a tough game,” Iowa fan Crystal Schwandt said.
“We’re going to get a victory tonight,” Michigan fan Louis Mclain said.
However, Indy tourism officials say the real winners are the city’s downtown businesses. Indy Sports Corp. says the expected economic impact of the game was upwards of $20 million. It also says the game is the second biggest event to be held at Lucas Oil Stadium after the 2012 Super Bowl.
“We had such a strong convention and visitor presence in our city before COVID so this is really a great chance for us to get back in to the swing of things,” Allie Moffett with Downtown Indy Inc. said.
Restaurants in the downtown area were packed on Saturday with some fans reporting wait times of several hours. Fans coming in from out of town also took up hotel rooms in the city.
“It’s really a great opportunity for us this weekend to show the Michigan and Iowa markets how great Indianapolis is,” Moffett said. “Those are markets we may not be able to typically reach.”
According to the fans we talked to, that effort seems to be working.
“It’s a nice city, it has a lot of cool spots to sit and get some food, drinks and hang out with friends,” Mclain said.
“Indianapolis is a great city, if I didn’t live in Iowa I might live in Indianapolis,” Iowa fan Tom Collier said. “What a great set up for athletic events, hotels, bars, restaurants, I love it.”
Tourism officials say they’re also looking forward to the College Football Playoff National Championship game that’s set to be at Lucas Oil Stadium in January.