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Neighborhoods outside downtown hoping for big crowds, too

February 1, 2012

Sun King Brewery has become a destination for many downtown Indianapolis employees and residents since opening on North College Avenue nearly three years ago.

But for many visitors to the Super Bowl Village on Georgia Street, the brewery’s location on the east edge of downtown might as well be miles rather than mere blocks away.

So, Sun King and other establishments outside the city’s core are banking on a free shuttle-bus service to draw visitors to their neighborhoods. They’re also providing additional reasons, such as live entertainment or simply staying open longer, in an effort to drive traffic.

The "Celebration Site" circulator bus service will run from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday with departures from the Indiana Government Center on West Washington Street, about a block from the Super Bowl Village, every 15 to 30 minutes. The shuttles will travel to destinations including the Mass Ave district,  Indianapolis City Market, Fletcher Place, Fountain Square and College Avenue.

Other free shuttles running 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday will travel to Zionsville, the Fashion Mall at Keystone, Greenfield and Broad Ripple.

And more shuttles running 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday will travel to Clay Terrace in Carmel, to Greenwood Park Mall in Greenwood and to downtown Shelbyville, where visitors can catch additional shuttles to Indiana Live Casino and Indiana Downs.

For Sun King, at 135 N. College Ave., the shuttle is only part of the plan to draw patrons to a place that might be considered off the beaten path to an outsider.

Its heated party tent, dubbed "The Local Underground," holds 500 people who can have a beer and grab a bite to eat while listening to live music.

The brewery in 2011 produced more than 10,000 barrels of beer for shipping to area bars and restaurants, making it one of the fastest-growing breweries in the nation. It also cans beer for retail sale at grocery and liquor stores.  

Visitors typically are welcome to sample the brewery’s numerous varieties of beer. But Sun King’s onsite caterer during Super Bowl festivities enables it to sell them by the pint. Cost for Super Bowl festivities at Sun King is $5 in the daytime and $10 after 5 p.m.

“There’s no crystal ball,” company spokesman Neal Taflinger said of the crowds that might traipse to the brewery. “My only expectation is that there’s going to be a sea of people unlike downtown has ever seen.”

Indeed, Super Bowl Village’s opening weekend met local organizers’ expectations—and then some—drawing more than 205,000 visitors last Friday through Sunday. The crowds undoubtedly will become larger as the game draws closer.

At 45 Degrees on Mass Ave, owner Bill Pritt is using his 46 at 45 promotion, a combination of Super Bowl XLVI and his restaurant’s name, to attract more customers.

He’s extended hours from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily and has a disc jockey booked every night. In addition, a partially enclosed patio is heated to accommodate spillover, if necessary.

For Pritt, who’s operated the restaurant nearly four years, he’s trying to keep his expectations in check. He’s just logged his busiest week ever, thanks to the Devour Downtown promotion that he participated in.

“I’m confident it will be a great weekend,” he said, “but I’m not buying into the hype.”

Mass Ave, downtown’s trendiest district, might be a welcome alternative to the ultra-corporate atmosphere of the NFL’s Super Bowl Village for many visitors. And perhaps a trip to Broad Ripple to soak in the night life would be, too.

Broad Ripple Super Fest, held Thursday through Sunday, will feature live concerts, food and beverages. Concerts are for ages 21 and over and will be held inside a heated tent on Guilford Avenue between Broad Ripple Avenue and Westfield Boulevard. Doors open at 6 p.m. with concerts starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at the Broad Ripple Super Fest site or at The Vogue nightclub.

The lineup for the festival includes George Clinton & The P-Funk All-Stars on Thursday, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and Robert Randolph & The Family Band on Friday, and Candlebox on Saturday.

Farther north, at Oakley’s Bistro at West 86th Street and Ditch Road, owner Steven Oakley is hoping for a 20-percent bump in sales, which he said would provide a big boost for his restaurant that’s struggled a bit in the down economy.

Oakley’s is typically closed on Sundays, but will open on game day to accommodate visitors searching for a relaxing brunch before heading downtown to tackle the hectic festivities.

“No crazy parties, nothing like that,” Oakley said of what patrons can expect at his eatery. “We’ll just do what we do and make it a great experience for those people from out of town.”

In Zionsville, northwest of Indianapolis, Liz and Kent Esra are hoping their Cobblestone Grill will enjoy a bump in business as well, though they’re not doing anything out of the ordinary.

“Normally, this time of year, it’s a little on the slow end and we cut our shifts,” Liz Esra said, “so our employees are looking forward to making some extra money.”

The cost of the shuttle bus services is being picked up by the individual companies and visitors bureaus. More information can be found here and a schedule of routes is available here.

 

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