INDIANAPOLIS — The Big Ten Tournament and then March Madness setting up shop in Central Indiana for an entire month could mean big business and customer madness. That's pretty much the exact opposite of what you'll find tonight in the heart of downtown.
"Hopefully it will a nice change of pace because it has been pretty slow since March," said Kyle Denton, the bartender and only server working the floor at Pearl Street Pizzeria and Pub in Downtown Indy just one block from Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which in normal times is a hot spot for Pacer fans before, during and after a game.
"We typically would be full, and people would be trying to get over to the fieldhouse. We would definitely have more people than this," said Denton.
Even during the pandemic Denton has seen crowds show up for game night, bringing enough customers that the place reaches its 50% capacity limit. That's why the possibility of customers coming from out of town for a full month of college sports is encouraging.
"Definitely the more events that are here, you see a lot more people. You have people calling in for large groups of people and we can only have so many people in the store," said Denton.
Restaurants like Pearl Street are still waiting for some key announcements, like how many fans will be allowed at the games, if they're allowed in at all. That complicates supply orders and staffing for some businesses.
"You don't want to order too much and have it go bad. We've kind of been running like, OK we'll order stuff and if we run out, we run out," said Denton.
Even if fans aren't allowed inside the games, there's still a good chance they will arrive in Indy, just to be near the action only to watch it at bars or restaurants. For Denton that is nothing but good news.
"The more people that come in here, the more money I make. So, I'm definitely very excited," said Denton.
Under current guidelines, sporting events in Marion County are limited to 25% capacity. At Bankers Life Fieldhouse, that's about 4,500 fans.