INDIANAPOLIS—The Big Ten Spirit is all over downtown Indianapolis. That's because all 11 teams, bring their fair share of fans, and of course, those fans bring more than just enthusiasm.
"Will we spend any money? Yes we will," said tourist Dan Wiese.
"After the game, you know, we hope to check out the area a little bit, and maybe grab a bite or a drink or something," said out-of-towner Debbie Bujack.
Gordon Coke said he's looking forward to a big pay day at his bar, "The Pub," from now, through the Final Four. He plans to double staff and add a tent for more seating, and like the tournament teams, his is just one of many downtown businesses in the game.
"I think the businesses downtown are really looking forward to picking things up getting along with the warmer weather and getting on with basketball," said Coke.
When it comes to that basketball, this is just the beginning of the rush of fans. Indiana Sports Corporation estimates the Big Ten Women's Tourney will bring in 30,000 fans, the men will attract 70,000 and the Final Four will seat 70,000 for each three games.
Those ticket sales translate into a big economic impact downtown. The last Big Ten tournament provided a $10 million economic boost. In 2006, the Final Four provided $39.3 million, and this year they expect it to be even bigger because it will be held here at Lucas Oil stadium, which is much bigger than the old RCA dome.
"We expect that number to definitely go up. We just don't know how much," said John Dedman of the Indiana Sports Corporation.
"This is kind of like, I say, the playoffs for the Super Bowl," said Coke.
Though Gordon knows this is just the first taste of things to come. For fans like Dan and Jo Beth, this is their Super Bowl, and happy to spend it here.
"Whether Iowa loses or wins, we stay for the entire tournament. This is kind of a vacation," said JoBeth Wiese.
"The shopping is good, so generally we go home with something or other that we probably shouldn't have bought," said Dan Wiese.