INDIANAPOLIS — The Circle City is setting the stage to host a major sporting event once again.
Central Indiana is no stranger to hosting large events during a pandemic, from a history-making NCAA tournament to the Indianapolis 500 roaring back after a year without fans. This weekend, Lucas Oil Stadium will host the 2021 Big Ten Football Championship Game.
Staffing shortages and supply chain issues have raised concerns for some local businesses.
Eddie Sahm, owner and operator of Half Liter BBQ, is getting ready to welcome Iowa Hawkeye and Michigan Wolverine fans while rebounding from the pandemic.
"A lot of people come before the games and have BBQ, meet friends, have drinks. We have a few people hang out during the game, but definitely a pre-game hangout," said Sahm.
After months of recruiting staff, Sahm is in the right position to take on another crowd-driven event.
"I'm not alone in having staffing issues. I think a lot of places did," said Sahm. "I'd say in the last couple of months, we've seen a little bit easier time in finding people."
One of Half Liter BBQ's newest employees is Ryan Garretson.
"This is only a short walk from my house at the time, and they were hiring," said Garretson.
Like many Americans, Garretson fell on hard times during the pandemic.
"It was definitely a struggle trying to pay rent, trying to take care of myself," said Garretson
With prior experience in the food industry, he jumped at the chance to join the team.
"I took this as an opportunity because they were hiring desperately. I took this as an opportunity to get back into it and start moving back up," said Garretson.
The Big Ten Conference Championship is expected to bring thousands of visitors to the Circle City. With that in mind, Sahm said the demand for Hoosier hospitality would be high this weekend, so he had to start prepping ahead of time.
"A lot of the problems have been in the supply chain and making sure we can get enough brisket and enough ribs, you know, many things that are popular for us here. But whenever there's a big sporting event here, we got to make sure the crew knows what's going on," said Sahm.
After more than a year in a tough spot, Sahm said it's rewarding to see business back to normal and is hoping to catch another big win on game day.
The Iowa Hawkeyes and Michigan Wolverines will take the field Saturday, December 4 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. and the winner will move on to the playoffs for the NCAA National Football Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday, January 10.