Indiana state and local officials celebrated Monday after the NCAA announced all the men’s March Madness games will take place in central Indiana. Leaders expect the investments made to host the 68 teams will pay off.
No official analysis has been done on the economic impact of Indiana hosting this year’s March Madness games, but officials say they anticipate it to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said the city is investing in things to help the tournament run smoothly including public safety and health, police, and thousands of masks for the event.
Indiana University Kelley School of Business economist Kyle Anderson said this and other purchases are good investments.
“Certainly, there will be some expenses and some costs associated with it,” said Anderson. “Generally, these are well worthwhile just for the city to get that kind of high-profile exposure, it's going to be worth it.”
Officials plan to create a bubble similar to what the NBA did to reduce potential exposure to COVID-19. The organization will use central Indiana for the men’s Division I basketball tournament, and will allow family members to attend. There’s no decision yet on whether fans will be allowed.
Anderson said even without the traditional attendance numbers of March Madness, there will still be a financial benefit for the area.
“Even if we don't have the kind of full event open to everybody, I think there's going to be a pickup in activity that's going to be really beneficial, especially to the downtown area,” he said.
The men’s Division II and III games will be held with similar precautions in Evansville and Fort Wayne. No announcement has been made yet for women’s basketball.
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The NCAA’s decision to host all three divisions of men’s basketball championships in Indiana gives hope to those in the state’s hospitality industry.
Hotels and restaurants throughout the state faced a grim year in 2020. More than 250,000 workers were laid off at some point during the pandemic.
The men’s Division I games in central Indiana will utilize four downtown hotels.
Indiana Hotel and Lodging Association President Patrick Tamm said even if it’s only temporary, March Madness will bring people back who haven’t worked since the start of the pandemic.
“We will hire back some people or frankly, bring them back in a temporary space,” said Tamm. “But realize these are people, hard working Americans, that to no fault of their own, haven't had a single hour, a single shift in their hotel that they in some cases worked for 10-20 years.”
Tamm said while this is a major announcement, the state has hosted other events following COVID-19 safety protocols.