INDIANAPOLIS — We won’t know a hard number to represent the true economic impact of March Madness in Indiana for a little while as experts like Chris Gahl with Visit Indy crunch the numbers.
But, Gahl tells Inside Indiana Business that have a glimpse that shows that impact will be pretty immense thanks to a national TV audience looking at Indianapolis and the rest of Indiana for a little of two straight weeks. He said the economic impact of the tournament will likely stretch well into April and May.
“Indianapolis repeated countless times on-air and written, and that’s a big brand boost heading into spring travel as consumers think about traveling again,” Gahl said. “So we’ve really enjoyed, as with all major sporting events, a boost to Indy’s brand.”
Gahl said hotels were nearly at full capacity at one point during the tournament.
“The first two weekends of March tie directly to basketball,” he said. “We were the number one in the nation in terms of downtown hotel occupancy hovering at 85-percent (first weekend) and 95-percent (second weekend) respectively.”
Gahl said Indy at one point had a higher hotel occupancy rate than New York City. As teams were eliminated and teams left Indianapolis, Gahl says that number dropped. Still, he said that number alone shows that there were thousands of people in Indy for March Madness, players, coaches, staff, and fans alike, generating revenue at local businesses.
Gahl expects the good times to keep rolling as the NFL has announced that even though the on-field activity for the NFL Scouting Combine won’t be happening in Indy this year, the medical portion of the Combine will be in Indianapolis.
That means every player that has entered the NFL Draft will be in Indianapolis from Thursday to Saturday this week to go through medical exams with NFL team doctors, which Gahl said is another opportunity for Indy to capitalize even more economic impact from sports.