Benefits to hosting the NCAA tournament, even without a crowd

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Bringing the entire NCAA tournament to Indy could be an economic coup for the city, even if there are no fans.

The NCAA announced last month it’ll hold the entire tourney in one place, and that it was in preliminary talks with Indiana to hold it in the Indianapolis area. The city was already set to host the Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium.

If March Madness comes to Indy, it’s likely to be with reduced or no spectators. Restaurants have said that would keep it from being the rocket booster for their business it normally would be. But Indy Chamber president Michael Huber says there’s huge marketing potential in a full month of TV coverage showcasing the city and its ability to host big events. He says the Chamber is already discussing ways to use the tournament to experiment with some new marketing techniques.

Huber says surveys have shown visitors to Indy come away with good feelings about the city, but the city lacks a national branding to draw them in the first place. He says the tournament could deliver that positive image to business owners.

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