Colts give local economy a kick

The economic impact from the Indianapolis Colts hosting two playoff games is still being tabulated. But it’s a moving target,
because merchandise sales are just heating up.

The Colts’ shop at Lucas Oil Stadium sold out of thousands of AFC
championship T-shirts and caps within hours of the end of the AFC Championship game against the New York Jets. Those shirts
sold for $24 and caps for $30. Sales were so strong, the stadium shop stayed open until 11 p.m., about five hours after the
game ended.

Indianapolis-based MainGate Inc., which manages the Colts’ retail stores and
online sales initiative, said sales are even stronger than expected.

MainGate had personnel stay at the stadium
pro shop overnight, and a new shipment of championship hats and shirts were received at 3 a.m., company officials said.

“People were just so excited, they were buying anything Colts,” MainGate CEO Dave
Moroknek said.

MainGate opened up the stadium shop at 6 a.m. this morning, and Moroknek said sales are strong again
today. He expects by tomorrow to have a supply of 25 AFC championship items shipped to the Colts stores at the stadium, Circle
Centre mall and Castleton and Greenwood malls.
Officials for MainGate, who took over retail operations for
the Colts three years ago, after the team’s appearance in the 2007 Super Bowl, expect sales of team items leading up to this
year’s Super Bowl to be more than 10 percent higher than they were in 2007.

“We have more retail outlets
than the team did last time, and we feel we bring a certain know-how to the sales process,” Moroknek said. “And
I think this shows that there’s an optimism that the economy is coming back. We expect a very, very strong two weeks
of sales leading up to the Super Bowl.”

Downtown hotel operators have already seen the benefit of the team’s
run in the playoffs. According to the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, every hotel room downtown
was booked the last two Saturday nights. Most downtown hotels were also over 85 percent occupancy each of the last two Friday

While the ICVA hasn’t done an economic impact study on Colts playoff games, several sports business
experts pegged direct spending from the last two weekends combined at $50 million. That includes restaurants,
retail and travel expenses in addition to hotel charges.

“It’s just a great thing for the city,”
said ICVA CEO Don Welsh. “You can’t overemphasize how good something like this Colts run is for the city,
not only in terms of direct visitor spending but exposure.”

The exposure comes at a
critical time for Indianapolis, Welsh said, because of all the new infrastructure at the airport and
downtown. “So many of these people coming downtown either have never been here or haven’t
been here in so long it’s like seeing a new city,” Welsh said.

Jesse Ghumm, general manager of the
downtown Hampton Inn, said the Colts playoff run comes at a traditionally slow time for downtown hoteliers
and restaurants.
“It’s winter, people don’t seem to travel or get out as much,
so this is gravy,” he said.

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