INDIANAPOLIS - Thousands of college basketball fans have descended on Indianapolis for the weekend and they are spending a lot of money.
Fans came to watch the games at Lucas Oil Stadium, but they have been spending their money in and around Indianapolis since the middle of last week.
Powerhouse programs Louisville and Duke brought the premiere matchup of the tournament so far, and their fans travel well, which increases the bottom line for Indianapolis.
The attendance for Friday’s regional basketball games was near 35,000 people, and the crowd is expected to approach similar numbers Sunday.
“For a basketball game, that is a lot of people, and that is a lot of visitors coming in on a weekend in late March. We couldn’t be happier with how things have gone so far,” said John Dedman of Indiana Sports Corp.
Visitors are expected to bring in $15-$17 million in direct spending, and organizers said everyone seems to be doing their part to accommodate the visiting fans.
“Four years ago, we had the exact same timeframe of tournament games, and our sales at Harry and Izzy’s are up 60 percent over four years ago,” said Jeff Smith, Harry and Izzy’s operating partner.
Fans were impressed with what the city has to offer.
“It’s been great. It’s a great location. It’s a nice city, we can walk around and there is plenty of things to do- shopping, good restaurants,” said Duke fan Joe Clime.
Circle Centre Mall, which is never open on Easter, was open Sunday and some restaurants operated with extended hours for visiting fans.
Follow Chance Walser on Twitter: @chancewalserrtv