The front desk phone at a local hotel has been ringing every 10 minutes with people looking for a place to stay when they come in for the Final Four.
The 125 rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn are booked solid through the weekend, front desk manager Matthew Sweet said. By the way, that’s the Hilton Garden Inn in Taylorsville, 37 miles away from the tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Visitors shouldn’t expect to find anything closer, Sweet said Thursday.
Local hotels are packed to capacity for Final Four weekend. Anyone trying to book a room last minute is going to have to greatly expand the search, local hotel operators said.
About 70,000 visitors are expected to come to Indianapolis for the Final Four weekend according to the Visit Indy tourism bureau. Kentucky plays Wisconsin and Duke faces Michigan State on Saturday night with the championship game on Monday. But the city also is hosting plenty of other events for visitors to enjoy outside the games.
Some of the spillover business is coming into Johnson County. Hotels are full, jets are making reservations to land at the Greenwood Municipal Airport, and businesses are gearing up for a surge in customers. That’s the same thing that occurred when the Super Bowl was downtown in 2012.
Some of the county’s largest hotels, including the Hilton Garden Inn at County Line Road, LaQuinta Inn and Suites on Main Street in Greenwood and Comfort Inn and Quality Inn off Interstate 65 in Franklin, are full. Farther down the road in Taylorsville near Edinburgh Premium Outlets, the Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn also are booked.
“We’re sold out, not starting Friday, but starting Saturday we are totally booked,” Hampton Inn front desk agent Courtney Merritt said. “It’s due to the crowd.”
On a typical weekend, local hotels aren’t maxed out, which is a sure sign that the surge is due to the Final Four, hotel staff said.
In Taylorsville, typically 50 to 75 percent of rooms are occupied during a summer weekend. Quality Inn and Greenwood’s Hilton Garden Inn are about 90 percent full on a weekend.
“Typically, we would start filling up Wednesday for the weekend. But this time it wasn’t in the week, it’s been this way for months. People called earlier to make the reservation so they booked these rooms way earlier than they normally would,” Hilton Garden Inn Indianapolis South/Greenwood director of sales Kristie Bricker-Ralph said.
Four jets have made reservations to fly into Greenwood Municipal Airport this weekend, but more could be calling after Saturday night when the championship game is set, airport volunteer Wade Kohlmann said. Last year, when Indianapolis hosted regional semifinal games for the tournament, at least eight jets flew in for the Midwest regional game between Kentucky and Michigan after the first round of games, Kohlmann said.
“We’ve got four that are going to be here for sure. We really expect to be busy after the first round,” Kohlmann said.
With only about 10 hotels and motels near I-65 in Johnson County, guests have to continue to move south if they want to be able to quickly get on the highway to head to Indianapolis.
With Indianapolis attracting major sporting events and large conferences throughout the year, Johnson County has been trying to get more hotels.
Developer J. Greg Allen, who owns land around the County Line Road interchange, said he’s been in talks with two hotel chains eying the area. Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness wants to get a large hotel near I-65 as part of plans to spark development around the interchange.
Guests staying in Taylorsville will need to drive more than a half-hour to get downtown, but that’s something that’s been a positive for the hotel since some people want to get outside the thick of Indianapolis, Sweet said. Anyone still looking is going to have to take their search farther out though, since everything around the outlet mall is filled, he said.
“As far as the phone being off the hook, the last five days, it’s just consistent phone calls over and over,” Sweet said.
The Final Four tournament at Lucas Oil stadium is attracting a large amount of visitors to Indianapolis this weekend. Local businesses are benefiting from the overflow of tourists. Here’s a brief look:
70,000: Estimated number of visitors coming to Indianapolis for the Final Four
$70 million: Economic benefit to central Indiana
135: Total rooms, all booked through the weekend, at Hilton Garden Inn Indianapolis South/Greenwood this weekend
4: Jet landing reservations made at Greenwood Municipal Airport
37: Miles from Taylorsville hotels, which are also booked, to Lucas Oil Stadium
$225: Cheapest tickets available for Saturday’s semifinal games, via ncaa.com
$2,700: Ticket cost for floor Section 114, Row Y