The move Friday was made to help mitigate the risks of COVID-19 and matches that of the men’s tournament, which the NCAA said last month will be played in the Indianapolis area.
Local officials are scheduling neighborhood cleanups, public art initiatives and a slew of other efforts to help the city put its best foot forward when March Madness takes over downtown next month.
The tournament will be played March 10-14 at Lucas Oil Stadium, sources say, because the women’s basketball tournament is already planned for Bankers Life Fieldhouse on overlapping dates.
The Indianapolis-based National Collegiate Athletic Association saw revenue fall by more than 50% in its latest fiscal year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but was able to minimize the damage thanks to its financial contingency plan, the organization said.
Five of the city’s most prominent hotels, accounting for more than 2,800 rooms, will house the 68 teams in the three-week NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament that tips off March 18.
When Indy last hosted the Final Four in 2015, five state teams were invited to the tournament. When the RCA Dome was the site in 2000, there were six.
The logistics needed to pull off the entire NCAA tournament are incredible. But Indianapolis officials tell IBJ reporter Mickey Shuey they are up to the task. So podcast host Mason King talks with Shuey about what he’s learned and what’s left to figure out.
The herculean effort over the next 2-1/2 months will involve city and state officials, tourism and civic leaders, and likely thousands of volunteers.
Nearly all of downtown’s nearly 7,600 hotel rooms could be used for the tournament, as well as additional hotels in other parts of the city as well.
The organization said it is “closely monitoring” the pandemic and will continue evaluating the feasibility of some fan attendance at some of the games.
If the city is going to host the tournament, it must do so with a clear-eyed awareness that much work needs to be done—especially downtown, where many restaurants have gone out of business and many buildings are boarded up.