INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Thousands of fans packed downtown Indianapolis to see Michigan and Michigan State go head-to-head in the Big Ten Tournament Sunday. Many of those fans said Indianapolis’ future is bright when it comes to future tourneys.
Side by side pep rallies only help re-emphasize the divide between Michigan and Michigan State.
“I think they got the team this year,” said Chris Salgado.
“Go Spartans!,” Greg Schrandt said.
And yet, ask Big Ten Tournament fans about this year’s host city, and the divide disappears.
“It’s so convenient. Tons of restaurants and everything is within walking distance. It’s been a great experience,” Schrandt said.
“Down here it’s an event. Up in Chicago it’s just something that they do. Here the whole town shuts down, great support, awesome downtown. It’s the best place to have it,” said Michigan Fan Jason Tacoma.
“The Big Ten and their fans have really had a great time and we’ve been excited to host this event once again,” said John Dedman with the Indiana Sports Corp.
Dedman said when thousands of fans pour into Indianapolis, so does the cash flow.
“The men’s tournament has about a $12.5 million in terms of visitor spending and the women’s tournament has about $4 million dollars. So it’s a very significant two weeks for our city,” Dedman said.
Indy will trade off hosting with Chicago through 2016, after that it’s up in the air. Big Ten conference expansion only helps grow speculation the tourney would move.
“As they bring in schools on the East Coast, there is always the talk that they could look to go east. But we really are confident that Indianapolis is going to be a large part of their events moving forward,” Dedman said. Adding pressure for Dedman’s group, he’ll have no trouble convincing the out-of-staters to come back.
“I think Indianapolis is pretty unique. It’s size, it’s not too big. It has a real good home feel to it,” said Schrandt.
“We love downtown Indy. Would love to see it back here,” said Carrie Stoll.