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Mayor expects ‘profound economic impact’ despite limits on Indianapolis 500 crowd

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — People expressed their excitement for the upcoming Indianapolis 500 at Wednesday’s 500 Festival Kickoff to May.

“I’m feeling fantastic! It’s May. Indy and May go hand-in-hand. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the race this year with the current restrictions,” said Natalie Kitson, of Indianapolis, at the Monument Circle event that was limited to the news media due to coronavirus limits.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be at 40% capacity — that’s 135,000 race fans — for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 2020 race was delayed from May to August, and held without any fans.

Louis Washington this month came all the way from Denver to experience the Indy 500 for the first time. “It’s kind of the adrenaline, you know, of just hearing the motors and everything going around. It just builds up the excitement of the race.”

“Oh, man, I’m real excited about the whole thing; you know, just watching the race, just real excited to be here,” Washington added.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett told News 8 that the race will have an economic impact in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. “We’re going to have 135,000 fans this year safely masked and socially-distanced. So, the race will have a much-different feel than last year when no fans were allowed. But, to have 135,000 people coming to Indianapolis and frankly many many thousands more who will come to the city just to be here for the race has a profound economic impact, positive impact on our city.”

Nicco Edwards, owner of Exotic on the Run seafood restaurant that’s just a few blocks east of the track on West 16th Street, said Wednesday that he’s very excited for what’s to come. “I think it’s going to be great. This is going to be my first year ever actually dealing with the Indy 500.”

Edwards hopes for a 30% boost in business. “We’re going to get a lot of good traffic, a lot of walk-in traffic. We’re ready. We’re just pumped, ready to just move out a lot of orders.”