INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana teams may be out of the NCAA Tournament, but March Madness has officially taken over the Circle City.
Lucas Oil Stadium is hosting Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games this weekend and there will be a free tailgating party on Georgia Street to celebrate the festivities.
All that traffic spells big business for downtown hotels and restaurants and a lot of planning ahead for locals.
Several downtown hotels and restaurants are already full for Friday night.
“We are pretty booked (on Friday),” said St. Elmo Steakhouse General Manager Chris Ratay.
The steakhouse and sister restaurant Harry and Izzy’s are extending hours this weekend to accommodate the rush. St. Elmo will also stay open for Easter Sunday unlike previous years.
Harry and Izzy’s has already put out patio furniture in hopes the weather would be mild enough to help service extra customers.
At RAM Restaurant and Brewery, customers won’t need a reservation—the restaurant will welcome walk-ins only this weekend.
“We found in the past that with large events like this we do reservations a lot of people end up missing out. They’re not able to get in,” explained General Manager Ross Katz. “So we do a first come first serve, just so we are able to accommodate everybody that comes in.”
Katz did advise that customers should call ahead to find out if there is a wait and how long.
“It’s not gonna be a normal weekend,” said Katz. “It’s gonna be a lot of fun.”
Oregon plays Louisville at 7:15 p.m. on Friday. Michigan State and Duke follow at 9:45 p.m.