Downtown Indianapolis was a sea of maize and blue and black and gold as the Michigan Wolverines and Iowa Hawkeyes battled it out Saturday for the Big Ten Football Championship. That means Hoosier businesses saw plenty of green, with estimates as high as $20 million in hotel, restaurant and other expenditures. It was the 11th consecutive year for the city to host the conference football championship, and the Indiana Sports Corp would like to continue that streak.
Prior to the game, ISC’s Big Ten Football Organizing Committee co-chair Steve Sanner sat down with Business of Sports contributor Bill Benner.
“We started this with the vision of making Indianapolis the centerpiece, the home, of the Big Ten Football Championship for as long as they want to have the game. That’s our hope,” said Sanner. “We expect that we’ll do well in the bid process to keep it, hopefully forever.”
With its central geographic presence in Big Ten “country,” Sanner says Indy is the perfect host for the annual gridiron celebration.
He says the championship game attracts not only fans from the two schools playing the game, but from supporters of other Big Ten schools who enjoy the game and what Indy has to offer.
“We’re seeing a lot of that the last five or six years in Indy. You see people wearing Big Ten gear from all 14 schools. And that just puts a smile on our face because we’re building this into a Big Ten event,” said Sanner. “It’s not about Michigan versus Ohio [State] or Ohio State versus Wisconsin. It’s Big Ten football and this is our chance to celebrate.”
The Big Ten Conference headquarters are in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont. Sanner says the proximity and Indy’s experience in hosting major events bodes well for future conference championships.
“They’ve had some turnover in the Big Ten. And they’ve been very grateful that they’ve been able to come here where we know exactly what we’re doing. We have experienced volunteers,” said Sanner. “A lot of the game operations people have been here all 11 games. It’s a really great resource for them.”