This year, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship and March Madness will be like no other. For the first time in history, all of the competition will be held in Indiana, with the vast majority of in Indianapolis. For visitors to Hoosier State capital during March Madness, most of the attention will be on the college basketball games. But for those who have time to further explore the Circle City, here are some other sports-related attractions to consider.
222 E. Market St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
City Market is a historic public market with a wealth of affordable gourmet food. Set in the heart of Indianapolis, City Market offers all sorts of food and drink options, such as BBQ, deli sandwiches and a lot more. Just steps away is the former site of Market Square Arena, where Indianapolis’ first Final Four was held in 1980. Market Square Arena was a former home of the Indiana Pacers, then with the defunct ABA (American Basketball Association). City Market is among the oldest public markets in the United States. In fact, the current building dates back to 1866. The best time to visit City Market is in the morning or afternoon. That’s because most of the businesses close at 4 p.m.
Crispus Attucks Museum
Crispus Attucks High School
1140 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
In the Upper Canal neighborhood, this museum features memorabilia from Indiana’s first all African American high school. Of particular interest is the exhibit of the high school’s 1955 basketball team led by NBA basketball legend Oscar Robertson. That year, the Attucks became the first all-black team to win a state high school championship. Both the high school and museum are named after Crispus Attucks, the black man who was the first person killed by British soldiers at the Boston Massacre. That tragic event led to the start of the Revolutionary War. Known as the “Big O” Oscar Robertson was a three-time college basketball player of the year. He was also the first NBA basketball player to average a triple-double in a regular season. The Crispus Attucks Museum is Indianapolis basketball at its finest.
NCAA Hall Of Champions
700 Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Current Hours: Thursday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Closed Monday – Wednesday
Price: Adults $5, Youth 6-18 $3, Older Adults 60+ $3, Children 5 and under – Free, Active Military Personnel – Free
Note: Advance reservations are not required but recommended on certain days in March.
Many sports fans might not know that Indianapolis is also the home of the NCAA national headquarters. Adjacent to the headquarters is the NCAA Hall of Champions, a two-level museum that showcases all 24 NCAA sports. Current exhibits include a NCAA Final Four gallery and another honoring the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The NCAA Hall of Champions is less than a mile walk from Lucas Oil Stadium, the enormous venue for this year’s Final Four Indianapolis basketball competition. Because you will have time between events, make sure to stop by the Hall of Champions during your March Madness visit.
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Plump’s Last Shot
6416 Cornell Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46220
At first glance, the name of this popular dive bar might not seem familiar. But for fans of the basketball movie Hoosiers, it’s worth checking this place out. Located in Broad Ripple, Plump’s is named after owner and local basketball hero Bobby Plump. His winning basket for Milan High School in the 1954 state championship was partly the inspiration for the 1986 film starring Gene Hackman. Try the famous tenderloin sandwich but also check out Plump’s impressive collection of memorabilia. This is a top spot to visit during your March Madness visit. That state championship is arguably the most famous event in Indianapolis basketball history.
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Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
3000 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
Hours: Daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: Adults – starting at $26.50, Youth – starting at $21.75
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is one of America’s oldest children’s museums and the world’s largest. Admission includes the Sports Legends Experience, which just completely reopened with limited capacity. Here, children can enjoy 12 outdoor sports experiences, in addition to 3 indoor exhibits. Of particular interest are children’s interactive experiences like mini basketball hoops and a mini Indianapolis Colts football field. Visitors will also enjoy the statues on the Sports Legends Avenue of Champions.
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Shining A Light
1 Monument Circle
Indianapolis, IN 46204
The city’s famed Monument Circle is the site for a dazzling nightly light presentation. Presented nightly, Shining a Light captivates visitors with a five-minute light show with music accompaniment from the city’s beloved Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. In conjunction with the nightly show is a stirring tribute to Indiana’s legendary Hoosier basketball history. Also not to be missed in downtown are the Reggie Miller of the Indianapolis basketball Pacers mural near University Park and the Peyton Manning statue at Lucas Oil Stadium.
510 W. 49th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
Built in 1928, Hinkle Fieldhouse was once the largest basketball arena in the U.S. Known as Indiana’s Basketball Cathedral, Hinkle will host some early round games of this year’s NCAA basketball tournament. Over its storied history, this legendary venue hosted several notable events, including Bobby Plump’s 1954 Indiana State High School Basketball Championship. Then known as Butler Fieldhouse, it also appeared in the film Hoosiers for that iconic high school championship game. If you have seen the movie, you know this is a must-see for a basketball fan when visiting Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
4790 W. 16th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46222
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October.
Admission: Adults $12, Older Adults 62+ $11, Youth 6-15 $8, Children 5 and under – free
For sports fans, a trip to Indianapolis truly cannot be complete without visiting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. General admission is just $12 for adults but for $10 more, fans can take the popular Kiss the Bricks Tour. Part of this tour allows guests to walk onto the legendary racetrack and “kiss the bricks” at the finish line! Also on display in the museum is a large assortment of vintage to modern Indy car winners.
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Indiana State Fairgrounds
1202 E. 38th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46205
A few miles from the Children’s Museum is Farmers Coliseum. Opened in 1939, this historic venue was the original home of the ABA’s Indiana Pacers. If you recall, the ABA Indianapolis Pacers were a powerhouse team, winning three championships. Three members of the Pacers of that era have had their jerseys retired by the team – Roger Brown, Mel Daniels and George McGinnis. The Farmers Coliseum will host March Madness basketball games in the first and second rounds of this year’s NCAA tournament.
About The Author:
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, CBS Los Angeles, CBS Chicago and CBS San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a digital audience reach of 489 million and more than 5.5 million monthly visitors. His other stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC, NJ.com and Radio.com.