Thursday December 7, 2023

The Blueprint

  • Indianapolis will host 68 teams over 67 games. Five hotels and six arenas will accommodate thousands of traveling players, coaches, staff, and fans.
  • “What they have to do for 68 teams, I only had to do for eight,” Maui Invitational tournament organizer Tom Valdiserri told FOS.
Photo: Lucas Oil Stadium/Design: Alex Brooks
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

Indianapolis will host 68 teams over 67 games. Five hotels and six arenas will accommodate thousands of traveling players, coaches, staff, and fans.

To understand how we got here, let’s go back to the Maui Invitational in November.

Other tournaments, like The Battle 4 Atlantis, played this year as the “Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic” in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the group of multi-team events at Bubbleville, all suffered cancelations. But the 2020 Maui Invitational in Asheville, North Carolina, proved that a COVID-free semi-bubble is possible.

“What they have to do for 68 teams, I only had to do for eight,” Tom Valdiserri, executive vice president of KemperLesnik and Maui Invitational tournament organizer, told FOS. “I think just the sheer detail and the communication to 68 schools is incredible.”

Add to that list a compressed time frame, and it’s easy to see how this March Madness might be the most complicated the NCAA has ever assembled.

Mobilizing a City

By late October, city officials had learned the NCAA was eying Indianapolis. Seven months removed from March 2020, the city had already been hosting events at its venues.

Poised for a pivot to basketball, organizers sprung into action, first rescheduling all other Indy events originally booked in the hotels, convention centers, and arenas during March Madness. 

Then, they drafted “dozens” of safety protocols with local health authorities and the NCAA, Indiana Sports Corporation CEO Ryan Vaughn told FOS. Some guidelines were as specific as where athletes were allowed to sit during a team meal or bus ride. 

They also mobilized hundreds of volunteers — though fewer than in previous years.

“You realize that decisions will come later, and they will be based on less information,” Vaughn said. 

Final Preparations

As organizers hammer out the remaining details of March Madness, they’re hoping for a seamless transition from other tournaments. The Horizon League, Big Ten, and others have been playing tournaments in Indianapolis, but the majority of March Madness teams have yet to arrive. 

The Marriott, for example, is bussing in extra housekeeping staff from Chicago to flip rooms, and bringing in extra cooking staff from “sister properties” to provide enough food, JW Marriott general manager Philip Ray told FOS.

“You know that feeling when you go to your car, and you’re like, ‘I know I’m forgetting something, and I don’t know what it is?’” Vaughn said. “It’s like that anxiety every morning.”

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Seven State AGs Sue NCAA Over Transfer Eligibility Rule

They say the NCAA’s one-time transfer reform didn’t go far enough.
Two federal lawmakers from Florida have asked the CFP for more transparency in its decision-making process after FSU's omission from the playoff.

Florida's Federal Lawmakers Are Going After the College Football Playoff

Rep. Gus Bilirakis and Sen. Rick Scott have both made statements.
Five professional sports labor unions have endorse college athletes becoming employees.

Five Pro Sports Unions Endorse College Athlete Employment

The MLBPA, NFLPA, NBPA, NHLPA, and MLSPA weighed in.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Why the NBA May Have Made Billions With Midseason Tournament


Featured Today

The College Football Playoff is considering rotating TV networks for the national championship game.

CFP Considers Super Bowl-Like Rotation For National Championship Game

Multiple networks could share rights to the championship game, sources told FOS.
Brett Favre
November 27, 2023

Favre Welfare Case Hold-Up? "AG’s Office Has Not Expressed Interest In Pursuing"

The DOJ interviewed Brett Favre in early 2020.
The future of the Pac-12 rests on a court decision.
November 24, 2023

The Pac-12 Plays Its Final Regular-Season Game. Then A Court Decides Its Fate.

The conference's future rests with a court decision.
Lane Kiffin
November 9, 2023

Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin Lawyers Argue for Dismissal of Player Lawsuit

FOS obtained audio of Lane Kiffin's interaction with the player behind lawsuit.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Multiple Locations
Multiple Locations
Creative Artists Agency
Multiple Locations
NCAA President Charlie Baker has proposed new rules that would allow athletes to receive more compensation.

New NCAA Proposal Takes Step Toward Compensating Athletes

It does not allow athletes to become employees, however.
December 3, 2023

After Unbeaten FSU’s Snub, Financial and Legal Fallout

FSU, ACC to take sizable revenue hit despite Seminoles' undefeated season.
JMU football has been spending like a Group of 5 team for years. Now it will play its first bowl game.
December 4, 2023

James Madison, the FCS Team That Spent Like an FBS Team To Become One

The Dukes have been spending like a Sun Belt program for years.

NHL’s Chris Foster on Amplifying Content Distribution With Automation

Learn how the NHL is using WSC Sports to increase fan engagement.
Florida lawmakers already have an appetite to propose state legislation to protest Florida State not making the College Football Playoff.
December 3, 2023

Florida Lawmakers Consider Protesting Florida State CFP Omission

It's unclear what form a bill would take.
December 1, 2023

TV Networks Are Programming College Football’s Future: What’s Next

Conference championship weekends will have a different feel in the future.
A lawsuit against the university of Oregon could dictate the future of Title IX and NIL.
December 1, 2023

New Lawsuit Could Decide Whether NIL Is Subject To Title IX

It's one of the biggest unanswered questions of the NIL era.