Make your home page

Indianapolis prepares for return of NCAA tournament

A basketball net at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 16, 2022. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — For the second year in a row, Indianapolis is playing host to NCAA Tournament action. But things are a little different this time around.

Fans were able to watch teams as they practiced Wednesday, and they did so without wearing masks or social distancing. That’s a big change from 2021, when the city hosted the entire NCAA Tournament with COVID restrictions in place.

There are also no capacity limitations for the First and Second Round games at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, which means the arena will be packed with fans for the games being played on Thursday and Saturday.

Thousands of fans means lots of dollars for the city, says Brett Kramer, spokesperson for the Indiana Sports Corp.

“We will have full capacity, which is wonderful,” Kramer said. “Throughout March, we are counting on $25 to $30 million in economic impact.”

Business should be very good for downtown restaurants, bars, and hotels.

Jason Mugg is the owner of Nine Irish Brothers on Massachusetts Avenue. He thinks people will have more fun at this year’s tournament than fans did last year.

“It has been two years since an actual St. Patrick’s Day without restrictions and people feel safe going out,” Mugg said. “We’re excited about all the different crowds with the NCAA tournament.”

With St. Patrick’s Day and NCAA play both happening on Thursday, downtown Indy will be a busy place.

“We encourage fans and people coming downtown to be patient and get parked to come inside the arena,” Kramer said. “We are just excited to welcome everyone, but we know that a lot is going on throughout the city.”