INDIANAPOLIS — Downtown Indianapolis turned into a basketball bubble for March Madness earlier this year. Now Indy prepares to host its next major college sports championship in post-pandemic style.
Detailed planning is underway for a full house at Lucas Oil Stadium next year at the College Football Playoff National Championship on January 10.
The media was allowed into the Indianapolis Host Committee planning meeting with contractors and vendors Wednesday in the basement of Lucas Oil Stadium. The committee discussed all the dirty details: like the locations of portable potties in parking lots and where snow will be piled up, if necessary.
Indianapolis hosted its eighth NCAA men's basketball Final Four back in April with limited fans. Now the city prepares to host its first college football title game, expecting no social distancing restrictions.
"This year we're confident that we'll be back to normal, and it's a great feeling,” said Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff. “We're all so much looking forward to normal, whatever normal might be in the new day. But we're looking for a full house and a full downtown of people really enjoying themselves."
That means the return of free fan events and concerts leading up to the game.
"Coming out of the pandemic and the quarantine, there's a higher level of enthusiasm,” said 2022 Indy CFP Host Committee Board Chair Mark Howell, “and I think even a greater expectation to produce something with tremendous energy and exposure. We anticipate a much higher level of engagement in this than we even were before the pandemic."
In a span of less than a year, Indianapolis hosts the two biggest events in college athletics: the men's basketball national championship, and now for the first time, the college football national championship.
The host committee estimates the game will bring an economic impact of $150 million to central Indiana. Both participating schools get 20,000 tickets, bringing plenty of out-of-town fans.
"We see all these events unfold in such a beautiful way,” said Susan Baughman, 2022 Indy CFP Host Committee president. “But I think having the national championship for college football is going to hopefully springboard us into another one of these event weekends for football, but also opens the door to other event owners to say, 'You know what? What will Indianapolis do next?'"
Kickoff is seven months away. This year's game was played in Miami, with less than 15,000 fans allowed in the stadium.