Tourism officials say the NCAA’s decision to allow up to 25% attendance for NCAA March Madness games in Indiana later this month will add significantly to the tournament’s expected $100 million economic impact. Visit Indy Senior Vice President Chris Gahl says beyond the much-needed boost for the city’s hospitality sector, it will also provide a unique opportunity for downtown Indy’s pandemic comeback.
“Without question,” says Gahl, who notes meeting and event planners from around the country are watching. “A lot of eyes, a lot of attention, a springboard and continued momentum heading into 2021 to book future meetings, to get residents back downtown and to drive tourism.”
Gahl talked about the potential economic impact from March Madness on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
In February, the NCAA announced plans to host the entire 2021 men’s basketball championship in Indiana. The majority of the 67 tournament games will take place in Indy, with some games being held in West Lafayette and Bloomington, before the previously-scheduled Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium the first weekend in April.
In making the announcement, NCAA President Mark Emmert called the move “a historic moment for NCAA members and the state of Indiana.”
It’s also a godsend for central Indiana’s $5 billion hospitality sector, which has been decimated by the pandemic. Gahl estimates that nearly 50 percent of the region’s 83,000 hospitality workers are either out of work or underemployed.