[UPDATED 3/12/2020: The Big Ten Tournament’s remaining games in Indianapolis have been cancelled according to reporting from the Indianapolis Star.]
No need to spend spring break in Champaign Urbana — take the drive to Indianapolis to experience the Big Ten Basketball Tournament
Spring break frequently requires creativity when it comes to entertaining the kids. We have a list of (mostly) inexpensive options for spring break activities but there’s another slightly more expensive choice for the Illini fans in your clan: The Big Ten Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis March 11-15.
We’ve written before about the fun you can have in Indy, a city that offers loads of family activities that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. But if you’ve never been to the Big Ten Tournament, know that it can generate a level of excitement — especially with the Illini a prime contender for the title — that isn’t easily matched. March Madness, and all that.
So here is a list of things you need to know about Indy, the tournament and how to best experience the hoops hysteria in the heartland:
- The tournament is played downtown at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (home of the NBA’s Pacers), known as a rather cool, modern building that incorporates the feel of an old-time fieldhouse.
- The best part of Bankers Life Fieldhouse is its location; it is situated within easy walking distance of dozens of restaurants and hotels, which means you can park your car in one spot (whether it’s at the hotel if you’re staying in Indy, or at the fieldhouse’s parking garage) and enjoy a full day of basketball, food and fun.
- Tickets: Lower-level tickets can be purchased through the Illini box office. General public tickets are available at the fieldhouse box office or Ticketmaster.com. We’re not going to lie; they aren’t cheap. If you want an all-session pass — i.e., a seat for every game of the five-day event — it will cost you anywhere between $210 and $400. But most folks want a single-session ticket so they can just catch the Illini games (and whichever games are included in that session; typically it’s a two-game session.)
Single-session tickets usually go on sale the Friday before the tournament begins (last year the sale started March 8). In 2019 they ranged from $25 to $100 depending on the seat location and the session (first and second rounds are typically $25-$50.)
You can find a tournament schedule here. Keep in mind Indianapolis is on Eastern Time. Which game Illinois plays in won’t be determined until the regular season is complete.