Most businesses benefit from NCAA Tournament, but not all

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Now that the last team has left town, businesses are taking stock after three weekends of March Madness.

Most are pleased, but not everyone.

The NCAA Tournament provided a welcome payday to many during the pandemic, but there’s also some disappointment knowing that even having the entire tournament come to town couldn’t match other big events.

“We’ve got to be happy about anything we get at this point,” Jade Sharpe, director of operations at Kilroy’s, said.

Business was double the usual amount, at least during the pandemic. Still, Sharpe said that’s just about an average day two years ago before the pandemic.

“It’s kind of disappointing in the fact that we know what it could have been,” she said. “Overall, it was a success, we’re all happy with sales.”

Away from downtown at Grindstone Charley’s on Rockville Road, owner Blake Fogelsong said it was one of the best months in years, with revenue up about 50% over usual.

“We’re super happy with the turnout and the extra revenue was a great boost to our restaurant,” Fogelsong said.

Strong carryout business helped bolster more dine-in customers. They also got about 20 orders from basketball teams in the bubble, at an average of a $1,000 per order.

“Yeah, that’s a huge deal especially at this time when we’re fighting for every dollar,” Fogelsong said. “Houston in particular ordered from us five times, so I was cheering for them in the Final Four.”

Kilroy’s also benefitted from a team which made it to the third weekend, though Sharpe wouldn’t say with one.

“There was one team in particular that we fed almost daily so we’re eternally grateful for that,” she said. “That was a great boost.”

But not everyone prospered. One downtown business who did not want its name used said it hired more staff and raised its expenses about 20% only to see revenue fall 10% the first weekend, 20% the second weekend and 30% on the final weekend.

Still, now with the teams out of town, the hope is that the momentum stays around and that people who were tempted out of their homes for the tournament will continue to venture out.

“I think there’s pent-up demand. I think a lot of people are getting sick of eating at home,” Fogelsong said.

“It was scary for a long time and I think we’re getting past that, just seeing that little glimmer of hope,” Sharpe added.

One reason for optimism when it comes to building momentum downtown is that Sharpe said Saturdays and Sundays were particularly busy as opposed to weeknights, leading her to believe it was mostly a local crowd coming out to watch games, not fans from out-of-town.