Downtown businesses ready to welcome fans for Big Ten Tournament

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Big Ten announced that up to 8,000 fans will be allowed inside Lucas Oil Stadium for the NCAA basketball tournament.

The Big Ten Conference will be played March 10 through March 14 and according to Lucas Oil Stadium, the basketball courts will operate as two distinct venues separated by a curtain.

They say fans will know how to navigate the stadium with maps. The Slippery Noodle Inn says they’ve been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic so they’re excited to have more people looking to come downtown.

“It’s like the light at the end of tunnel. You know what I mean? Personally and business-wise,” said Slippery Noodle Inn office manager Sara Etherington.

Etherington said the pandemic forced them to shut down in March 2020, and to make matters worse their owner Hal Yeagy passed away in November after fighting cancer.

“I’m excited for business to come back obviously to Indianapolis and there to be some sense of normalcy,” said Etherington.

Now they’re on the clock training new employees and pulling in old ones to make sure they’re ready to serve more customers, but they say there’s still a lot of questions about how many fans will actually visit the area.

“It’s so different to factor in OK there’s 8,000 people now so what does that mean? Does that mean they’re all coming down? Will it be 8,000 for sure? Are people going to travel?” said Etherington.

On the other hand, Shapiro’s Deli says they’re looking forward to more customers.

“We support the additional customers and the sports and making the country open up more,” said Brian Shapiro, owner of Shapiro’s Delicatessen.

Shapiro says the city is doing all it can to stay afloat.

“The Indiana Sports Corporation, Downtown Indy, Inc. and Visit Indy have been working miracles to keep the city together,” said Shapiro.