Hotel rooms are becoming increasingly difficult to come by in downtown Indianapolis ahead of NBA All-Star Weekend, slated for Feb. 16-18.
The league has committed to fill more than 7,000 of downtown’s nearly 8,500 hotel rooms to house media, players and their families, staff, sponsors and ticket holders throughout the weekend. Several hundred of the rooms outside the NBA’s “block” have already been scooped up—leaving just a handful remaining, albeit at significantly inflated prices.
The NBA has contracted with 29 of downtown’s 35 lodging properties, with each committing at least 90% of their inventory at negotiated rates and minimum four-night stays (Thursday night through Sunday night), according to Visit Indy.
The media hotel, for example, is the 378-room Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre that carries a price tag of $305 per night plus 17% tax. A booking for the same period in an non-blocked room at Crowne Plaza downtown starts at $622 per night. The Holiday Inn Express adjacent to Lucas Oil Stadium has nightly rates of $665 and up.
Beyond hotels, visitors are left with listings from Airbnb, Vrbo and other short-term rental companies.
But those, too, are pricy. A two-bedroom apartment in The Block Apartments building, 114 W. Market St., is listed for $720 per night, while a four-bedroom space along Georgia Street that can accommodate 10 people is listed for nearly $1,600 per night.
Chris Gahl, executive vice president of Visit Indy, said while specific details like average room rate and the revenue generated by the hotels won’t be available until a few weeks after NBA All-Star Weekend concludes, the high occupancy rate and climbing costs for any remaining rooms is unsurprising.
He said the NBA’s presence in downtown alone accounts for more than 28,000 room nights, but the overall impact will be felt more widely. The event as a whole is expected to generate $320 million in economic impact for central Indiana.
“Virtually every hotel and hotel room in downtown Indy is being used by the NBA, and there’s strong compression out to the suburbs, too,” said Gahl. “Marion County hotels are … teetering on selling out. We are [also] tracking strong compression out across the entire [metropolitan area] and throughout the city’s short-term rentals, especially Airbnb.”
Patrick Tamm, president of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association, said the entire metropolitan area has more than 37,000 room nights booked for the event.
Hotel rooms for Friday and Saturday nights are particularly difficult to come by—and come with big price tags—according to IBJ research.
The Holiday Inn Express at 5151 S. East St., near Interstates 465, is selling for $359 per night. The Delta Hotels by Marriott on the east side is going for $262. On the north side, the Candlewood Suites off Interstate 69 is selling for $263.
Some hotels and short-term rentals are hanging on to lower prices, however. A two-bedroom home near Garfield Park on the south side is listed for $184 per night, while the Speedway Legacy Inn on the west-side is going for $200 per night. Only a few lower-tier hotels across central Indiana have maintained pricing below $100 per night, while most have climbed to at least $150.
To be sure, the high rates and limited rooms found across central Indiana are not unexpected or unprecedented. Rates for the 2012 Super Bowl were often in the high triple digits, even for lower-end hotels. And local tourism officials have said for months they expect about 125,000 to participate in All-Star Weekend, more than half coming from out of town.
“What’s better than putting Indiana once again as the host of this international event, with the All-Star game?” said Tamm. “There’s no better place than the home of basketball, so I’m pretty pumped about it. This is what we live to do.”