MBB: The Big Ten's Impact on Indianapolis

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On the eve of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament, BigTen.org had a chance to meet up with Chris Gahl, the Director of Communications for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, to talk about the impact the Big Ten Tournament has on the city.

As has been the case since 2008, the Big Ten has brought both of its men's and women's basketball tournaments to the Circle City, and this year Gahl noted that the back-to-back tourneys will provide a $10 million boost to Indianapolis.

"Our restaurants are full, our hotels are virtually sold out... this is big business," said Gahl.  "We know that these 11 schools travel and travel well to Indianapolis to soak in this activities, and to do the little things like pairing each school with a bar or restaurant where fans can gather, adds to the fan-festive environment here in the city."

Ask any Big Ten fan here this week what they like about coming to Indianapolis, and most -- if not all -- will tell you how much they enjoy everything being centrally located.

One of Gahl's favorite terms in describing the downtown area is "walkability," meaning for visitors, it is so easy to dine, shop and watch basketball all by walking a short distance.  In a way, once you come to town and park your car, you won't be getting back in it until it's time to go home.

"In the last 30 years, the city has hosted more than 400 national and international sporting events, including the Big Ten tournaments and certainly the NCAA men's and women's Final Fours," he said.  "One of the key points back 30 years ago that the city leaders were then adamant about was keeping everything centralized and connected.  We now have more hotel rooms connected into the Indiana Convention Center and subsequently into Lucas Oil Stadium than any other convention city in the United States.  (This helps) breed the camaraderie, that fan-festive environment, that you see when you take to the streets during an event like the Big Ten Men's Tournament."

Gahl and his staff recently joined members of the Indiana Sports Corporation in North Texas for a Super Bowl-planning trip and agrees that despite all the activity and games held in Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis' true test run to hosting Super Bowl XLVI will be 60 days prior when they host the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship.

"We are honored to have the first Big Ten Football Championship in Lucas Oil Stadium.  We hope to continue to bring back the Big Ten Championship for many, many years."

For more on the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, click here.

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