Fans flock to downtown Indianapolis for Midwest Regional semifinals
Teams and fans have begun arriving in Indianapolis for Friday's NCAA Midwest Regional semifinals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Tens of thousands of fans will pack the stadium - and spend their money in downtown Indianapolis. In fact, the event is expected to bring in around $20 million for the city. The pairing of rivals Kentucky and Louisville will no doubt help attract fans, too.
The games are scheduled for 7:15 pm (Tennessee v. Michigan) and 9:45 pm (Kentucky v. Lousville) Friday night. But there were already a number of fans trickling into downtown Indianapolis Thursday, when free practice was being held at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Fans were fired up not just for practice but for the whole weekend.
"We're just coming here for the free practice. Sharing it with my son. Get to see big-time players. We're excited about that," said a man who'd brought his son.
"I'm really excited but I was kind of sad because I had Duke in my final championship so my brackets are a little messed up," said his son. (Of course, he's not alone!)
A Tennessee fan told us, "Hard to believe. We've not been in it much. It'll be exciting for us to be here."
"I've been a UK fan all my life; my whole family, all big Blue fans. Just can't wait to see 'em play," said a Kentucky fan. At practice, he'll be watching "just see what Coach Cali[pari] has to tell 'em. See what we're gonna look for in the game tomorrow."
"There's a big rivalry and getting tickets was kind of hard. It's pretty awesome that we're up here right now," said another fan who paid $96 per ticket. "We may be pretty high up but it's still gonna be an awesome game."
The day was especially popular for families, since it was their only chance to see their teams at center court without having to pay.
Restaurant and bars are also eager for a slice of March Madness. Steve Geisler, who owns Tavern on South just west of the stadium, said, "It's exciting. It's a great opportunity to get a whole different crew we don't normally have."
He said they ordered extra beer and bourbon for the fans from Kentucky and Tennessee. The restaurant will also open Sunday.