INDIANAPOLIS — "March Madness" in Indiana is about two months away, but it's not the only championship coming to central Indiana.
Less than 12 hours after Alabama won the College Football Playoff national championship, host city Miami passed the ball (virtually) on to next year's host.
Indianapolis will host the championship game for the first time. It's scheduled for Jan. 10, 2022 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
And it's hoped, when Indy hosts, the stadium will be packed with fans – unlike the game in Miami. For that game, capacity was limited to 14,000 because of COVID-19.
"The vaccine definitely puts us all in a hopeful mood whether it's about sports or life in general," said Susan Baughman, president of 2022 Indy College Football Playoff Inc.
The 2022 championship game is expected to draw 100,000 fans to Indy over four days, pumping $150 million into the local economy with free concerts and a fan fest in the days leading up to the game.
But the host committee is leaving nothing to chance.
"There will certainly be contingency plans," said David Lewis, committee member.
Lewis also said the $10 million needed to host the game has already been raised.
"And I'm happy to report none of our donors have asked to be forgiven of their commitment, they have met their commitment and we're very confident we'll have the funding in place for this event," he said.
"We are just blessed with the gift of time," Baughman said. "So, at this point we're not spending a lot of time on the worrying side of the situation. We're really working on planning because we can always scale back those plans if need be, but hopefully we'll be full-on."
She said part of their planning includes being prepared for continuing social and political unrest by "working closely and communicating with public safety officials on all public spaces we use, how to create a really great atmosphere that's safe in all ways, health and otherwise."
The committee also plans to recruit 1,500 to 2,000 volunteers to help support the event. Hosting the game also includes investing $1 million in legacy programs thru the CFP Foundation. Two programs are the Indiana eLearning Lab and Teach Indy.
A third initiative announced Tuesday is "Extra Yard Makeovers" at four Indianapolis-area schools: Southport Middle School, Garden City Elementary James and Rosemary Phalen Leadership Academy and Victory College Prep.
The schools were chosen based on the percentage of students from low-income households and the verified need for a media center makeover.