City tackles weather in advance of big game

Downtown will host thousands of football fans for the Big Ten Championship Saturday.
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As a winter storm moves into central Indiana, Indianapolis gets ready to host the Big Ten Football Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night.

Thursday afternoon, crews set up tents and stages along Georgia Street, the site of several Big Ten events this weekend. Besides live music, tailgate parties and an eating contest, ESPN's College Gameday will broadcast live from an outdoor state at Pan Am Plaza.

Georgia Street Manager Melissa Thompson said they were working to get a jump on the weather.

"We are pre-treating Georgia Street sidewalks and the boardwalk (for snow and ice) and working closely with the Department of Public Works to watch the weather and figure out when it comes in. Then we'll attack it as soon as it gets here," Thompson said.

The game between the Michigan State Spartans and Ohio State Buckeyes is expected to draw a near sold-out crowd of 65,000 fans.

Ohio State fan Bruce Rothermund rolled pulled up to his downtown hotel Thursday afternoon.

Rothermund said, "It's the first time Ohio State has been here, so there's no reason to stay in Columbus where it's cold. We might as well come here and be cold, too."

While the forecast is less than ideal, John Dedman, spokesman for the Indiana Sports Corp said they're not worried yet.

"The events are snow or shine, as we're calling them," he said. "We're in the middle of Big Ten country, a lot of these fans are used to inclement weather this time of year, as they've gone to football games on their campuses."

Georgia Street will have tents and overhead heaters. Fans will also be able to escape the chill by attending the Big Ten Fanfest inside the Convention Center. It will feature various games and interactive displays.

One business not worried about the weather? Bee Coffee on the first floor of the Pan Am office building across from the Convention Center. As one of their signs read, "Seriously, warm up now!"

Employee Lauren Dodge said, "It's definitely going to be cold and we're definitely excited because all our drinks are warm and delicious."

Dodge said the coffee shop was extending its hours both days and also stocking up on extra coffee as well as food items.