The NCAA says it hopes to have a deal in place sometime in December to have Indianapolis host its entire men’s basketball tournament. And while specifics—everything from venues to hotel configurations to medical resources—are still to be worked out, an all-Indy March Madness would almost certainly provide a much-needed boost for the city.
“You talk about vaccines for COVID, this is a booster shot for the hospitality industry,” said Inside INdiana Sports Host Bill Benner, who admits there are many unknowns, including how many fans, if any, would be allowed to attend. “But you could certainly see a boost from all of the other people who need to be here, whether it’s television production crews, media, game support personnel that would help fill Indianapolis hotel rooms and restaurants at a much, much needed time.”
Not to mention the impact of nationwide media exposure focused squarely on Indianapolis over three weeks of hosting the 68-team tournament.
Benner talked about the impact and the reasons Indianapolis is positioned to host the entire tournament on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
Benner, a long-time observer of the Indianapolis and Indiana sports scene, says choosing Indy to pull off the ambitious plan is a no-brainer.
“It kinda gets back to the three C’s that we’ve always talked about with Indianapolis: convenience, compact, connected,” said Benner, who adds the city’s vision and strategy to build a sports capital, over several decades, continues to pay off.
“In this particular case, it turns a very difficult situation into a positive for Indianapolis and the hospitality industry. We wish it hadn’t happened this way, but it really couldn’t come at a more opportune time.”
The NCAA announced November 16 that its Division I Men’s Basketball Committee had for weeks been discussing contingency plans for the 2021 tournament because of the pandemic.
“Through these discussions, it became apparent to the committee that conducting the championship at 13 preliminary round sites spread throughout the country would be very difficult to execute in the current pandemic environment,” the NCAA said in a news release. “The committee has decided the championship should be held in a single geographic area to enhance the safety and well-being of the event.”
The organization says talks with the state of Indiana, city of Indianapolis, Visit Indy and multiple additional organizations are continuing with an announcement expected in December.
The 2021 Final Four was already scheduled to be held at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.