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The Big Ten championship game should bring in $20 million. Here's how they got that number

While hotel reservations and dining play a role in the prediction, there many more legs.

If you host it, they will come.

Visitors are making their way to downtown Indianapolis for the Big Ten Football Championship game Saturday. And when visitors come to town, so do their wallets.

From Thursday to Sunday, the game is expected to bring in $20 million this weekend. While hotel reservations and dining play a role in the prediction, there are a lot more legs.

Chris Gahl with the nonprofit Visit Indy is one of the people who work to bring visitors and their money to Indianapolis.

"We look to go out and be very aggressive to bid to host major events," Gahl said. "Our job is to support the 83,000 men and women who depend on tourism for a paycheck."

And when a major event is added to the agenda, Visit Indy uses a special calculator to predict the revenue it will bring in. 

The proprietary calculator, developed by the company Rockport Analytics, is updated every year and considers more than 100 variables.

There are three types of spending: direct, indirect and induced. 

"Direct would be someone sitting and having dinner," Gahl said. "Indirect would be the server who's serving that table, the chef who's preparing the food."

Finally, induced spending would include the meat or vegetable purveyor who supplies the restaurant. 

Gahl said the calculation is usually within five to 10 percent of the estimation, plus or minus depending on last-minute RSVPs.

Last January, the calculator hit even closer for the College Football National Championship.

The estimate was $150 million dollars, while the actual earnings were $156.6 million - about a 4.3% difference.

While many factors play a role, Gahl said it boils down to heads and beds. In the past couple years that has evolved, too, with Airbnbs and VRBOs to the mix. 

"We monitor that, and we have a subscription to something called AirDNA. That tells us the short-term rental market," Gahl said.

This weekend, he said, "listings are lighting up."

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