The city’s Capital Improvement Board on Monday afternoon voted to approve a $125,000 grant that will help the Indiana Sports Corp. put on two high-profile events—the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship game in December and the Big Ten basketball tournament in March.
The money will help stage and promote the events. The first Big Ten Football Championship game will be Dec. 3 in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Indiana Sports Corp. officials, who are in charge of game operations, declined to divulge the game’s budget. In its contract with the city, the Big Ten agreed to pay CIB a $363,000 license fee to host the game.
CIB President Ann Lathrop said before the board's meeting that the real payoff will be the event's sizable impact on the local economy. Big Ten officials are predicting a sellout crowd of more than 63,000 will attend the game, and the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association estimates the annual economic impact will be $17.7 million.
Some sports business experts expect that number to be closer to $20 million. The economic impact for the Southeastern Conference's championship football game is $30 million, officials said, and the Big 12 title game generated about $20 million last year.
If the experts prove correct, the Big Ten Football Championship will not only be one of the five biggest non-bowl college football games in the country. It also will be one of the top sporting events in Indianapolis based on economic impact.
“We anticipate a lot of interest in this game and tens of thousands of visitors to the city,” Lathrop said. “Those people will be staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants and shopping in our shops. And hopefully a lot of these people who come here for the game will be impressed by what our city has to offer and come back for another visit.”
The Big Ten Football Championship will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium through 2015.