Welcome to Indiana. My Indiana. 

March Madness in Indianapolis (Photo: Aerial Imaging Resources)

The eyes of the sports world will be on Indianapolis this week, as the city prepares to host its seventh NCAA Men’s Final Four Basketball Championship.

March Madness is in the air…and by the time the calendar turns to April, it’ll be game on!

It’s true. We’ve had a little controversy here. You may have heard about it. Like a family, we Hoosiers have our differences and we’re working through them. But this is the Final Four, and right now…it’s all about basketball!

If you’re heading to Indy this week, here’s what you need to know:

We’re pretty easy to find. If you’re coming from Kentucky, go north…Michigan, south…Wisconsin, get to Chicago, then go south…North Carolina, head west. And watch out for potholes, or as they’re known in Indiana…sinkholes.

Once you get here, just head downtown. That’s where all the action is. And park your car, because you won’t really need it. You’ll find everything you need right there. And some things you don’t. Like a creepy statue of John Wooden. You’ll know it when you see it.

We decorated for you. There are basketballs and Final Four signs everywhere. There’s even a giant bracket (the biggest in the world, I’m told) covering one whole side of the JW Marriott hotel. No, you can’t burn it if your team loses. But you can cry. There’s a lovely canal that runs through downtown to catch your tears.

We have memorials everywhere. Indianapolis is second only to Washington, D.C. when it comes to the number of monuments dedicated to veterans. And no, there’s no statue of Peyton Manning. Not yet, anyway. We’re working on that.

While you’re here, you should really visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. IndyCar was born in Indiana and the season is in full gear. The month of May is right around the corner and they’re preparing to host the biggest sporting event in the world and the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500. So, how can you not visit the Racing Capital of the World while you’re in the Sports Capital of the World? They’ll even take you around the track on a bus or better yet, in an IndyCar! And it’s only about 15 minutes from downtown (by regular car).

Hoosiers are friendly folks. Most of us will talk to anyone about anything. If you’re looking to start up a conversation with a local, here are two safe bets: “What’s up with the weather?” and “When is Paul George coming back?” No one knows the answer to either, but they’re sure to give you an opinion. And if you want to chime in, just say “spring.” It works in either case.

You’ll also find many helpful Hoosiers around town to assist you and direct you on your way. Hundreds of people have put in thousands of hours (most of them unpaid) to welcome visitors here with the warm Hoosier hospitality we’re known for. Why? Because we love our city and we love to share it with you. Also, we don’t have any teams left in the tournament and we have to make ourselves useful somehow.

This is what Indianapolis lives for. This is what Indianapolis plans for. This is what Indianapolis does (and does better than anyone else).

So, my plea to visitors and media members and sports figures in Indy this week is this: Judge us on our actions. Not our politics.

Because I promise you, for all the stereotypes created by one bill, there are millions of Hoosiers ready and waiting to prove them wrong.

This is Indiana. My Indiana.

Take some time to get to know us. And we’ll extend the same courtesy to you. Because in Indiana, we’re open to all. Just like we always have been. And nothing makes us happier than seeing visitors enjoy our city the same way we do.

Welcome to Indy!

It’s win or go home…

But, we hope you’ll want to return regardless.

Now, let’s watch some basketball!

14 comments

  1. Annette Magjuka says:

    Yes, we are friendly and welcoming to all. Except when we aren’t, like if you are gay and a Hoosier wants to “serve God” instead of serving you. It’s all OK in IN, we have a law that says so! If a business owner judges you to be a sinner, he can discriminate! We will mostly do it with a smile, though. Sorry, no cupcakes for you. That would support your “gay lifestyle.” Repeal the law? Nah, But enjoy yourselves!! Have a good day! God bless!

      • Tom Wilson says:

        If this is cousin Pam from Mooresville, you are so wrong. This anti-gay law was written & passed by the extreme religious right wing in Indiana. They thought that nobody would notice when they prohibited the press from the “signing ceremony” Please see the pic with Pense surrounded by the clueless… I do not see the difference between this anti American law & the anti sharia laws that the same anti Americans are also pushing through the un-educated states that form are union.

  2. Eric Paul Leue says:

    “Judge us by our actions, not by our politics.”

    Your actions put Pence in office — so yes, I judge you by your actions.

    • Hoosier says:

      Not everyone voted for him, so your argument is invalid. But keep judging an entire state’s population by one bill signed in by a politician that didn’t stay to what he preached in his campaign. Oh you probably think politicians don’t lie either. Seems pretty hypocritical to me for you to be judging the entire state population when the whole fight is for everyone to be seen as equal. I do not agree with the bill, but I also don’t like to be judged because I am a citizen in a state and had nothing to do with the bill being signed.

  3. LELBS says:

    Yes, Pence got voted in. No, he’s not representing the majority with his little agenda and quite unlikely that he will get re-elected. Ever. And it’s completely unfair to judge the citizens of this state because of the actions of a few. Oh…and Indiana is the first state to have an elected official make an ass of himself & the state. Wrong. Give us a break while we straighten this out…and (*gasp*) give a little support to the citizens who staunchly oppose it. Quit hating…because it could happen in your state.

  4. Chris says:

    Wonderful article! I am sharing it on my fb page…it’s exactly what we need to say to the world! Thank you for writing it.

  5. Carol says:

    Thank you Indy Star for finally saying something good about Indianapolis. I’ve been ashamed of the way you have smeared Indianapolis in the last few days.

  6. David says:

    the real problem is all the Hoosiers that stayed home last November and did not vote. You let the Republican crazies take over and push religion down your throats. I hope Hoosiers wake up before 2016 and VOTE DEMOCRAT to end racism and bigotry

  7. Terry says:

    We shouldn’t judge the state by what a few politicians do. I’m a Hoosier. I don’t live in the state anymore but I feel for the people who do after watching Pence Sunday talking with George Stepanopolis. The guy was an embarrassment. Hope the Final Four stays in Indy!

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