INDIANAPOLIS — Business owners across Indianapolis are gearing up for another busy weekend.
The NCAA tournament resumes in less than 24 hours with the Sweet 16 tipping off Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
So far the games have been a welcome boost to businesses from downtown to Broad Ripple.
Sports fans from around the country came to the Circle City to enjoy some upset-filled basketball games last weekend and gave business owners a reminder of what things were like before the pandemic.
“For the first time in a year Broad Ripple felt like a normal community where there were people out,” said Lanie Campbell.
Lanie Campbell’s business, 317 BBQ in Broad Ripple, benefited by catering pre and post-game meals to a handfuls of teams like Alabama, UNC and Iona.
That’s in addition to the people who grabbed a table and enjoyed a meal in person.
“Broad Ripple was packed last weekend, so from an in dining perspective, we definitely noticed there were more people in town,” said Campbell.
“To be able to do stuff like this, to be able to host a tournament and have visitors in town, we still have to follow the rules because we’re still in a pandemic. It’s not over,” cautions Melissa McMasters with the Marion County Public Health Department.
McMasters reminds every visitor and business owner that COVID safety protocols remain in effect.
Earlier this week, two bars had their licenses temporarily suspended for violating public health orders.
“Everyone in Marion County, including our visitors, is subject to our public health order,” said McMasters.
Those orders include a mask mandate and staying socially distant.
Because the tournament went from 68 teams to just 16, this weekend won’t have as many games, but business owners still hope to capitalize on the excitement of the tournament.
“We’re staffed and ready to go for a busy weekend, so fingers crossed that happens,” said Campbell.
Health officials say overall the tournament has been a huge success, but the restrictions are important because they wants to avoid a post tournament surge in COVID cases.