An estimated 40,000 people will be visiting Indianapolis this weekend to attend the Sweet Sixteen games of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The ticket sales for this Friday’s matchups that pit Louisville against Kentucky and Michigan against Tennessee have already been 15 to 20 percent greater than last year, said Visit Indy spokesperson Morgan Greenlee.
With such a large amount of people heading to Indianapolis for the game, Visit Indy estimates a $20 million economic impact on the city.
“Originally we were estimating about a $19 million increase, but once we realized that UK (University of Kentucky) had won, the economic impact increased by $1 million,” said Greenlee.
Since businesses are expecting high visitation this weekend because of the increase in customers, many stores and restaurants have already begun to prepare.
“We already prepared last week and this week. We ordered the team (merchandise) that we thought would win and we loaded up on all the major team (merchandise),” said Thomas Gebauer, assistant manager of Collectors Den in Circle Center Mall.
Many restaurants and businesses have increased their staff throughout the weekend to help with customer service and are holding various promotions to draw more clientele.
“We are hosting the Louisville fans on Friday afternoon,” said Greg Stipek, manager of Champs on Washington Street. “We have high hopes and are fully staffed and ready to go.”
Along with broadcasting the games, Champs will also be serving red beer to the Louisville fans to celebrate their team colors.
While some businesses, such as Champs, are aiming for a specific crowd, Weber Grill’s general manager, Jacob Wright, said the restaurant isn’t looking for any specific crowd. But he said it will be increasing its staff for the weekend.
“With the teams we got coming here, we couldn’t have done any better,” said Stipek
Erika Brock is reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.