Noted Ball State University economist Michael Hicks says the NCAA’s decision to relocate the entire Division I men’s basketball tournament to Indiana is a major win for the state. He says it could have even more of an economic impact than the Super Bowl, which Indianapolis hosted in 2012.
“I’m not ready to put a dollar figure on it…this has the potential to be incrementally more important than the Super Bowl, which I estimated in the $300 million range,” said Hicks.
On Monday, the organization announced March Madness would be played “in a bubble,” much like how the NBA played its season with all teams competing in Orlando. A majority of the 67 tournament games will be played in Indy.
“I’m certain fan attendance will be smaller than a typical tournament, but all the athletes, staff, media and families of athletes will be concentrated in the greater Indianapolis area,” said Hicks. “Some of that will start later this month as media move to the site to begin preparations for the tournament.”
Hicks says the event has the potential for saving much of Indianapolis’ tourism and hospitality sectors from further damage from COVID. He expects the revenue will help hotels and restaurants which are facing dire economic consequences from travel bans and canceled conventions.
“This year is different because there would otherwise be very little economic activity occurring in the region. So, instead of simply displacing another convention, this is mostly all new economic activity for Indianapolis and the surrounding area,” said Hicks.
Hicks expects because of the high-profile nature of March Madness, and the millions of TV viewers the games attract, central Indiana will reap benefits for years.
My guess is that the longer-term benefit of showing of the region will be important. This is exactly what Indianapolis needed at this time in her history,” said Hicks.