Big rivals set to square off in Indy for NCAA Midwest Regionals
March Madness moves to Indianapolis this weekend.
Lucas Oil Stadium is expected to be packed with fans of Louisville, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan for the NCAA Midwest Regional.
That's setting the stage for a big weekend for sports fans, but also for sports bars and the city in general. Businesses are excited about the matchups that will bring thousands of basketball fans and millions of dollars to the city.
In fact, Chris Gahl with Visit Indy called the schedule - especially rivals Louisville vs. Kentucky - a "dream draw."
"It's nearly picture perfect," Gahl said Monday. "Not only is this a heated rivalry, but the proximity to Indianapolis makes them perfect candidates to get in their cars, come to Indianapolis and spend time...soaking up the action as well as leaving money behind. We estimate this weekend alone will generate nearly $20 million in estimated economic impact."
Kilroy's Bar n' Grill at Meridian and Georgia Streets is one of the bars expecting big crowds.
"Even if they're not going to the game, they still want to be in front of a TV - and we've got plenty!" said Kilroy's manger Jade Able.
Michigan, of course, also travels well, as we saw with the Big 10 Tournament. They're hoping the same for Tennessee.
But it's that cross-state rivalry that Kenny Hall of Greenwood is excited about. Hall is a born and raised Kentucky fan. When asked about the showdown, he said, "You've got a former UK coach, you got the in-state [draw], there are no pro teams in the state, so this is the biggest game in the history of Kentucky basketball."
David Lind, a rabid IU fan said since he doesn't have a team in the tournament, he'll be "casually" watching. But Lind also said he understands the March Madness craziness.
"This time two years ago, since IU was pre-season number one, I went ahead and booked a hotel in every tournament venue so I could follow the team as far as they went," Lind said. "they went to DC. I had a great weekend, but they lost the first game."
Speaking of hotels, Gahl said downtown there's a "virtual sell-out" of rooms, going for anywhere from $230 a night to $350. Gahl said he'll be watching from home.
"I have two little boys so I'll be with them. They'll be in bed, though, so I'll have to keep it down in the basement," he laughed.
Even though the first game isn't until Friday, things really will kick off Thursday when fans can go see their teams practice. That's between noon and 4:00 at Lucas Oil Stadium.