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Indianapolis prepares for college football national championship amid COVID concerns

The college football national champion will be crowned in Indianapolis for the first time Monday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis' celebration of the college football national championship is coming together.

Playoff Fan Central is under construction at the Indiana Convention Center. The fan activation space is a 335,000-square-foot playground for fans of all ages. 

The stage is going up on Monument Circle for three days of concerts. All the free downtown events lead up to the national championship game between Alabama and Georgia Monday at 8:15 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"We love the activity to come back to Indianapolis and we like Indianapolis to be able to show the other cities how to do it,” said Brian Mahone, special operations bureau commander for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. “We kind of take the lead on that. We're really proud of what we do at large events."

Downtown hotels are booked solid this weekend. COVID-19 is still with us in 2022. But it's not stopping fans from coming to Indy for the college football playoff national championship.  

RELATED: Your ultimate guide to Indianapolis during College Football National Championships

"Hotel occupancy, special event venue rental is looking very healthy - a virtual sellout downtown,” said Visit Indy senior vice president Chris Gahl. “Much needed, a great way to kick off the beginning of the year. A great way to keep our tourism/hospitality workforce employed and moving ahead."

Credit: WTHR
A sign welcoming visitors for the 2022 College Football Playoff national championship game stands at Indianapolis International Airport.

A healthy $150 million economic impact is estimated from the wallets of 100,000 visitors to Indianapolis. But what about the health of all those people mixing with the locals? We will be spreading more than Hoosier hospitality?

"If you are sick, if you have a cough, if you have a runny nose, if you have a fever - please do not attend an event,” said Dr. Michele Saysana with IU Health. “Don't attend an event with your family, and don't attend the college football championship.”

Lucas Oil Stadium will be at full capacity with masks strongly encouraged, but not required. 

“People know what it takes in order to be safe,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department. “Wear that mask while indoors. Get vaccinated with the boosters. Get themselves tested before the game."

But neither proof of vaccination nor COVID testing is required for fans going to the game. 

RELATED: College Football Playoff announces COVID plan, including possible team forfeitures

The college basketball men's national champion was crowned at Lucas Oil Stadium back in April. Now for the first time, the football national champion will be crowned in Indianapolis Monday night.

"It is an enormous honor and a huge point of pride that our city can be the center of the college sports universe in back-to-back years,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.

Monument Circle will host free concerts Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. All concertgoers will enter the Circle from the south spoke off Washington Street through metal detectors beginning at 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and noon on Monday.