How Indy Safely Hosted March Madness

Never before has an entire city played host to the NCAA March Madness Tournament. Until now. Indy successfully welcomed 68 teams from across the country and you may be asking “How?” or “Why Indy?”  We're teaming up with PCMA to host a webinar on April 20 at 11 am to answer just that. RSVP here for a sneak peek inside Indy's playbook with speakers from Visit Indy, the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, and the NCAA.

As soon as the global pandemic hit, the Indiana Convention Center began implementing $7 million in ongoing health and safety upgrades, achieving Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ Facility Accreditation, and named a Center for Excellence by Exhibitor Magazine. Indy wasn’t going to sit on the sidelines. In fact, Indy has hosted 51 live events since getting back on track in July 2020, safely welcoming more than 130,000 visitors to the city with no known COVID-19 cases. 

As the entire events and tourism industry looks to rebound in 2021, here are five reasons Indy is the ideal city for hosting your meeting – or an entire tournament. 

1. Connected Hotels

Indy earned USA Today’s “#1 Convention City in the U.S.” honor for the most hotels and hotel rooms connected to a convention center. With 7,500 rooms in the downtown core (4,700 connected), attendees can easily walk to their meeting destination while staying within a bubble-type environment. This connectivity was a key factor for the NCAA when they selected Indy.  

2. Venue Proximity

Facility Proximity

Indy didn’t become the “Amateur Sports Capital of the World” overnight. Indy was strategically designed to host large-scale events. The Indiana Convention Center connects to Lucas Oil Stadium via enclosed walkway, offering 750,000 sq. ft. of space under one roof. Georgia Street, a three-block pedestrian promenade and event space, connects our convention package to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. With an additional 100+ venues in the downtown core and surrounding area, Indy offers a wide variety of options.

3. Walkability

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an 8-mile bicycle and pedestrian-friendly trail that is a safe and convenient way to explore Indy's thriving cultural districts. Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure cited the trail's upcoming two-mile expansion, which will connect the newly renovated Madam Walker Legacy Center, as one of the reasons Indy made their 2021 Best Places lists. This trail makes it possible for attendees to move safely throughout the city without having to use close-contact transportation like shuttles. 

4. Drivability

Indy is within a day’s drive of more than half of the nation’s population, making it one of America’s most drivable cities. Research shows travelers are currently more comfortable taking a road trip than traveling by plane. However, if they do fly, they will have peace of mind knowing they are flying into an ACI Airport Health Accredited airport which is consistently ranked the #1 Airport in North America.  

5. Community Collaboration

At the beginning of the pandemic, Visit Indy gathered over 60 city leaders and hospitality employees across all sectors to work diligently towards a Hoosier Hospitality Promise to our visitors. This Task Force meets regularly to ensure every step is being taken to ensure a safe and healthy environment.

All events operate under strict guidelines, as event organizers work closely with the Marion County Public Health Department to implement an approved safety plan. Safety plans include limiting occupancy in each exhibit hall, requiring attendees and employees to wear masks while inside, having daily temperature checks, and following strict directional flow of attendees throughout the halls. If it weren’t for the collaborative spirit between Visit Indy, the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, Marion County Public Health Department, hotels, and other key stakeholders, safely hosting events amid a pandemic would not be possible.