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Indy prepares for Final Four weekend

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s a big weekend for the Final Four teams playing for the NCAA title and it’s an equally important weekend for the city of Indianapolis.

“Next to the Super Bowl, this is the largest sports gathering in the nation,” said Bob Schultz, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Downtown Indy.

An estimated 70,000 people will be in town, which tourism officials expect to generate $70 million for the local economy.

“We’re ready and prepared for it,” said Dave Luterman, Assistant General Manager of Kilroy’s Bar and Grill. “You can see the excitement. Just seeing the banners go up (and) the tents around town.”

Signs are up, streets downtown have been renamed to honor the final four teams in the tournament along with their fans, and stores are stocking up on merchandise.

Hotel reservations begin filling up months ago and Eugene Hilliard, General Manager of Homewood Suites, said some have already checked in days before the games.

“We’ve actually started to see guests come in as early as Monday,” said Hilliard.

Among the families already here are the Richards’ from Minnesota.

“Our whole family is coming,” said Terri Richards, who said they’ve spent time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and planned a stop at the Indianapolis Zoo.

“(Indianapolis is) very easy to get around, it’s great,” she said. “Very friendly people.”

“Those dollars come into our hotels, our restaurants, our bars, our grocery stores, our taxi companies, all of that,” said Schultz. “This is millions and millions of dollars that stay in this community.”

Schultz and others said the weekend is also an opportunity to show off to the nation Indiana’s trademark ‘hoosier hospitality.’

“This is what our reputation is built on,” he said. “We’re doing what Hoosiers do best. We host.”