While many communities along Interstate 69 experienced an influx of visitors this weekend, Grant County seems to have missed out on the Super Bowl rush.
Several communities outlying Indianapolis, including Anderson and Muncie, were named as Super Celebration sites. These sites were selected to take in visitors overflowing from Indianapolis, as well as to provide local attractions and entertainment.
The Super Bowl Host Committee estimated that 150,000 visitors will come to Indianapolis because of the Super Bowl. This is the first time the city has hosted the event.
With most hotels expected to be booked along the I-69 corridor, Grant County expected a modest bump of visitors displaced by the event and was ready to extend "Hoosier hospitality" to those that made it up this far north.
As of Friday, however, many local hotels reported that they were still far from capacity but were still hopeful for a late rush.
Darlene Mehegan, manager at the Best Western Plus in Gas City, 4936 Kaybee Dr., said on Thursday that the 62-room hotel still had plenty of vacancies for the weekend. She anticipated it to be similar to the late turnout usually experienced during the Indianapolis 500.
"We expect a lot of walk-in traffic," she said. "Indianapolis should be (getting) full and people will start progressing outward."
Mehegan said she had heard that hotels can fill up as far as a four hours drive from the Super Bowl.
Monica Quick, who works front desk at Days Inn and Suites, 6138 Corridor Dr., said with reservations the 60-room hotel was at half capacity until Sunday.
"Every day that goes by we keep on getting more and more calls for reservations," she said.
The Hotel Marion, 501 W. Fourth St., had many walk-ins and reservations for the weekend, according to Hannah Fallee, who works front desk. She said these included out-of-town visitors.
"We just have a lot of people coming in and staying here," she said.
Farther away from I-69, Grant County hotels were seeing less business.
Judy Cox, who works front desk at Comfort Suites, 1345 N. Baldwin Ave., said that there were multiple vacancies over the weekend. She said this was not a surprise.
"We really didn't feel like it would be busy," she said.
Penny Freeman, front office manager at Hampton Inn, 1502 N. Baldwin Ave., said as of Friday the hotel was looking to be at 50 percent capacity over the weekend.
"We expected about 60 to 70 percent," she said.
It may be too early to tell, but most of the impact from the Super Bowl on Grant County seems no different than any other year.
Pete Ellis, who manages P & C Sports and Novelties in Five Points Mall, said he sold out of New York Giants jerseys. He said he thought this was because Giants quarterback Eli Manning is Colts quarterback Peyton Manning's brother.
This sell-out offsets a drop in the sales of Colts jerseys, he said.
Wal-Mart store manager Shawn Nash said that his store is seeing more Colts jerseys being sold, which he has moved to the front of the store with beer, wine, snacks and other party items.
"We got people coming in planning to go to the game," he said.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States released a press release last week highlighting Indiana's "blue laws" restricting the sale of alcohol on Sunday. It said the law reduces customer choice and deprives the state of tax revenue all year.
Local liquor stores did not anticipate much of a boost ahead of the Super Bowl.
Janell Frazier, a clerk at Save-On Liquor, 1216 W. Second St., said the store had a little more beer stocked up than usual but also had a little boost in business. She said she anticipated more people to come in the hours ahead of the store's closing hours on Saturday.
Mike "Sparky" Radkovic, co-owner of TJ's Beverage Shop, 105 N. Jefferson St., Converse, said he ordered a little more in anticipation of a busy weekend ahead of the Super Bowl.
"I think (Saturday) we'll have a better idea with the Super Bowl down in Indianapolis whether we'll see more business," he said.
Ultimately, more people probably left Grant County in the days ahead of the Super Bowl than visited it. Around 300,000 people were expected to visit the Super Bowl Village in downtown Indianapolis by today.
RTV6 in Indianapolis reported Friday that some Super Celebration sites saw mixed results. Hotels in Columbus reported they were nearly booked, while Greenfield was at 75 percent capacity. Some communities seemed to have far more locals than out-of-town visitors at their attractions.
Icehouse owner Steve "Gunner " Roesly Jr. said his 1412 W. Kem Rd. establishment was anticipating no more than a normal Super Bowl Sunday, which usually has a lot of people. He said most local excitement was still centered on Indianapolis.
"I talked to about a thousand people that have been downtown (in Indianapolis)," he said.