INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Lucas Oil Stadium has been transformed for the upcoming NCAA Midwest Regional action. Four teams, Oregon, Michigan State, Louisville and Duke are the teams taking part.
When you see it in person or on CBS you might not recognize it. Lucas Oil Stadium has gone to its half court game for the Midwest Regionals – a first.
"So the court is based in the south end zone. And they've set up some retractable seats as well as some temporary seats. And a curtain to take our capacity to 36,000," says John Dedman, Vice President of Communications for the Indiana Sports Corp.
36,000 is still a lot of fans for a basketball game, but it's more intimate than using the entire 65,000 seats as they would for football or the Final Four, says Dedman.
"It gives us the opportunity to host not just a basketball game here on the court that all the fans see, but a number of constituents in the back," says Dedman.
Back behind the curtain are banquet tables and port-o-lets. Only a few hundred fans will be allowed inside there.
"It's a hospitality area for a certain ticket package that has been purchased," says Dedman.
Behind the hospitality section sits a place where the teams, VIPS, NCAA brass and media members, some 500 of them, will wander. It is complete with signs pointing out directions and a map posted to put it all in perspective. CBS, which will broadcast the games, even has its own dining area – nothing fancy.
While some media members will sit courtside, many of the 500 won't. They'll sit in the upper deck, looking down on the action – action that will play to an audience of millions making all of the preparations at Lucas Oil worthwhile.
"Locally it gives us the opportunity with the national television audience to really brand Indianapolis, and Indiana in general, as a sports capital. As a place that people will want to come and visit," he says.
There are still about 3,000 tickets available for Friday and Sunday's games. If Louisville and Michigan State end up in Sunday's action, an expected second surge for the available seats is likely.
Both of those markets are an easy drive to Indianapolis.
If you want to see inside for yourself, practices are open and free. Oregon will take the court at noon Thursday, followed by Michigan State at 1 p.m., Louisville at 2:10 p.m. and Duke at 3 p.m.
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