Indianapolis gears up to host national championship as college football kicks off

Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — Thursday night marked the start of the college football season.

Don’t look now, but it’ll be over before you know it. 

The City of Indianapolis was selected as the first ever cold-weather city and non-bowl city to host the college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. 

Several groups involved in readying the city for this massive event say they’ve earned another chance to shine due to successes in the past. 

“We’ve shown the world that we can do this during a pandemic and host an event that had never been done before,” said Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association President & CEO Patrick Tamm. “We hosted the entire NCAA tournament last year. We have shown that we can be very flexible, we can be very accommodating. If you want to have it done the best, you come to the best, and that’s in Indianapolis.”

The city has 130 days until kickoff, when an estimated 110,000 fans will flock to the Circle City to experience the crowning of the national champion. 

“We are known for doing these. We are the best at doing this, and we’re gonna continue to be the best at doing this,” Tamm said. “This isn’t just the largest thing for college football, this is one of the largest events in the country and the world of this type of magnitude.”

It’s a magnitude of staffing, service and manpower that if held today, the city would not be ready for.

“It’s not something you can just quickly flip on a switch and just, ‘Hey, we’re ready for next weekend!’

“This is a pretty long and lengthy preparation time. The planning, the staffing, all those types of efforts have already been underway for quite some time, and we’re looking forward to having it,” Tamm said. “At the same time, we’ve dealt with a lot of labor issues, labor shortages, those continue today, but these are the type of issues that we wanna have, particularly it helps us get our footing back. It helps get downtown back, and it gets a lot of people back to work.”

People looking for work will find plenty of it ahead of the game. The city is looking for 2,000 volunteers. 

“The true piece of the Hoosier hospitality secret is first and foremost our people, second is the willingness to volunteer. All these events do not happen unless we have unbelievable amount of volunteers,” said Indy 2022 College Football Playoff Host Committee Chairman Mark Howell. “That is what Indianapolis’ secret sauce is, is that you take all of these organizations and the way they partner and work together in such great collaboration to pull something off like this.

“We’ve got a lot of people putting together a ton of fun activities. We’re gonna be able to show these football fans a great time and show off our city to the whole world.”

Indianapolis will be ready for the world to witness come January 10. The prep to get there begins now.

“I think everyone is super excited. Look, the energy level within college football is so high, and for that to have been quote unquote on the sidelines for a year and everybody watching these games at home alone, everybody’s anxious to get back out. Get with other people. Celebrate the game and cheer their team,” Howell said. 

That seems to be especially true for Alabama fans. 

“I think most of Alabama’s already booked their hotels! We’ve seen a pretty heavy presence of Tuscaloosa, Alabama zip codes and addresses for all of our hotel rooms already,” Tamm said. “I’m not kidding! They operate with such a high level of confidence, it’s crazy.”

The championship weekend event slate begins January 7. It’ll be spread throughout the city at notable spaces like Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Georgia Street, Pan-Am Plaza, Lucas Oil Stadium, Monument Circle and the White River State Park.

We’ll be sure to share more details when they are available. 

If you’re looking to help volunteer, you can sign up today.

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