The 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament kicks off this week, and from the first game through the Final Four®, Indiana will play host to it all. With the majority of games happening right here in Indianapolis—and several at Butler University’s own Hinkle Fieldhouse—two experts from Butler’s Lacy School of Business share their thoughts on how the city might see impacts of the madness this month and for years to come.

Dr. Ronia Hawash
Assistant Professor of Economics

“I am excited that Indianapolis will be hosting the tournament, not only because some Hoosiers will be able to enjoy the games live, but also because Indianapolis will be in the national spotlight. The stream of visitors to these events—including team members, game spectators, support staff for teams, and media personnel—is also expected to positively impact the local economy.

The high inflow of non-residents to the city will likely increase spending on area hotels, restaurants, retail vendors, and rental car companies, in addition to public transportation and parking services. Moreover, we would expect that the number of visitors to Indianapolis tourism venues will increase. The initial projection of the economic impact was estimated at $100 million if no fans were allowed. But with the NCAA’s decision to allow up to 25 percent occupation of capacity for fans, the positive economic impact of hosting the event will be significantly greater.

Those effects will likely be felt long-term. Higher inflow spending in the city means higher tax revenues for the local government, which in turn is channeled into better, lasting services for local residents. Higher spending in certain industries will also increase local firms’ demand for labor, boosting employment opportunities and wages paid to the Indianapolis labor force. Because workers spend some of their incomes on goods and services, higher employment and wages is expected to induce the economy even more.

The tournament may also strengthen long-term tourist inflows to Indianapolis, as visitors become more aware of the city’s cultural, historical, and entertainment attractions.”

Dr. Dan McQuiston
Associate Professor of Marketing

“I see this as a great opportunity for Indianapolis to showcase the things we do well—and sporting events are something we do extremely well. When we hosted the Super Bowl in 2012, for example, the whole city just turned out. There were so many people who wanted to volunteer. It was incredible.

Tournaments are great in Indy, in part because everything is right downtown. When you look at the venues we have—Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Hinkle Fieldhouse, and so on—the proximity of those locations makes it easy for guests to get around. And it’s not just the venues: It’s the organizational efforts from our people. We plan these things really well, and the whole idea of Hoosier Hospitality plays into that.

This will be a festive atmosphere, with people coming from all over the country. In between games, those fans can visit local attractions like the Indianapolis Zoo, the Children’s Museum, White River State Park, and so on. Maybe those people have never been to Indianapolis before, and maybe they’ll see that it’s a pretty neat place. Then, when they go on social media to talk about what a great time they had here, that type of thing can go viral.

We will also have all these media members in the city, and when they aren’t covering games, they will be looking for stories about Indianapolis.

This could be a real boon for the city. Indy has a great brand in terms of all the things we can offer. This just gives us a chance to showcase that, and I have every confidence we will do a great job.”

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