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The Indianapolis region is made for this March Madness moment.
You can ask any sports fan—when it comes to sporting events, nobody does it like Indy. There’s a reason that we’re both the Racing Capital and the Amateur Sports Capital of the World, and it’s a combination of our vibrant community and genuine love of the game.
The 2021 March Madness Tournament will be an event like no other, with all the games in one booming city. But Indianapolis and our residents are uniquely equipped to make it happen.
Decades of intentional decision-making and sporting events have paved the way for this moment in history. Since the Indiana Sports Corp (ISC) began in 1979, Indianapolis has hosted more than 450 national and international events, including many of the NCAA’s high-level championships. However, the key to their success is the support of our community, including businesses, residents, and organizations like Visit Indy.
The NCAA deeply values its partnership with Indianapolis—the home of their national headquarters—and the entire Indy community. And this tournament would not be possible without our residents’ commitment to volunteer operations and community engagement.
Indy’s volunteers are a different breed.
The Indy region had less than 12 weeks between the March Madness announcement and the start of the tournament. During the early planning stages, the need for volunteers was pretty small. But as the tournament inched closer, more than 4,000 volunteer jobs were announced—and Indy residents stepped up! Within 24 hours, people filled nearly every volunteer opportunity, from airport ambassadors to information center volunteers.
After all, hosting an event this large takes the entire community, and we embrace that collaborative spirit. Residents here love the opportunity to get involved and make a nationwide impact through their service. Over the years, the Indiana Sports Corp has grown such a dedicated group of volunteers that event partners like the NCAA and the Big Ten know and recognize people who have stepped up time and time again.
I do think that it’s unique to Indy. It really is. [Our volunteers] don’t even work for us, but they are the face of [our organization] to this major event partner. And they want to come back to Indianapolis over and over again. So, I think that speaks volumes. We even hear it from other cities—other event partners—that [our volunteers are] just something that is unique to Indianapolis.
You don’t need to volunteer to get involved here in Indianapolis.
Not every resident will be able to volunteer for the event itself, and tickets this year will definitely be limited. But in Indianapolis, there are so many ways for the community to get involved in the March Madness festivities.
Even if you know nothing about basketball, local artists, businesses, and residents alike come together to bring our city to life. Prior to the tournament, countless people helped with large-scale neighborhood cleanups. Hotels and hospitality businesses have prepared for guests from across the country. And the Indianapolis Arts Council and GANGGANG have partnered with nearly 600 local artists to bring you Swish.
Swish is a three-week-long arts festival with outdoor music and dance performances, new basketball-themed murals, and sidewalk galleries throughout downtown Indianapolis. Both visitors and residents can see the public art as they explore the city and safely participate in the fan activities.
In March Madness tradition, the NCAA also partnered with local schools and venues to host community events around the tournament. Students from schools throughout Indiana participated in a reading competition, including more Hoosier students in the event excitement. And we gave the traditional Fan Jam experience a safety facelift to ensure that as many fans as possible could still participate, while making health and safety our top priority.
March Madness season is a way of life in Indianapolis.
While the 2021 March Madness Tournament will be different in many ways, one thing that’s stayed the same is Indy’s passion for the game. When the NCAA brings a competition back home to Indianapolis, the region always shows up to create an experience that’s bigger than the game.
Kids at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis practice their game-winning buzzer shots at their March Madness tribute. Residents travel down to Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis to watch the special basketball-themed projection each night, shining a light on the iconic Lady Victory. And everyone fills out their brackets as they count down the days until a champion is crowned.
Because this is March Madness. And for these next few weeks, the Indianapolis region is basketball country once again.