The Fighting Irish football team hits the road this weekend for the annual Shamrock Series game. This year's edition is in Indianapolis, a pleasant (okay--boring) 2.5 hour drive south on US 31. As a resident of the greater Indianapolis area, I will try to give you a few pointers. But first, let's talk about a couple other things that came up this week.
1. The NCAA (which is headquartered in Indianapolis) decided to lift the Bowl Ban on Penn State early and reinstate the lost scholarships starting next fall. Thoughts?
I don't know how much I want to get into this. First, epic fail on the part of the NCAA. They clearly have no idea what they are doing, especially if you believe that the first punishment wasn't severe enough. Sure, it isn't fair to the current players--but they were all given the opportunity to transfer without penalty. The recruits knew what they were signing up for.
I think the SBNation mothership said it best with this tweet:
The NCAA is just making things up as it goes. That was obvious in how the whole Penn State situation was handled. http://t.co/tTMRsyYw7p
— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) September 8, 2014
2. USC AD Pat Haden was fined $25K for having words with the officials during last Saturday's game with Stanford. Some have questioned if he should retain his place on the Playoff Selection Committee following this incident. Agree or disagree?
I think the whole thing is more comical than anything else. Haden may be a USC homer, but is certainly more qualified than other members on the committee. One could make the point that a standing AD shouldn't be in that role, but there are several others on the selection committee.
Of course, that didn't stop Twitter All-Star Ryan Nanni from having a little fun with the incident:
SARK: yo dad plz come down here HADEN: Is this an emergency? SARK: totes
— Ryan Nanni (@celebrityhottub) September 6, 2014
3. On to Indy. Where can I go on Friday night (or Saturday night after the game)?
The beautiful thing about Indy is that once you are downtown (which honestly is only about 8 square blocks), you don't need to drive or cab it anywhere--everything is within walking distance. Since converting the old RCA Dome site into a convention center expansion, there has been a huge uptick in conference related travel and (almost) everyone that comes to town loves it.
There are several options downtown that will serve your needs, and the local craft brew scene has grown by leaps and bounds in the time I have been in the area. If you want to avoid the college bar scene, sticking to that area is your best bet. Some of the more popular options include Scotty's Brewhouse, Kilroy's, the Slippery Noodle Inn and The Pub. Nicky Blaine's Cocktail Lounge is a cool place if you want to enjoy a nice cigar with your drink. The Rathskellar is a few blocks from downtown but is another solid option. One other place that I have heard really good things about is the 1933 Lounge, located above (and owned by) the world famous St. Elmo's Steakhouse. In short, lots of options.
If you are into more of the college scene, get a cab and head up to Broad Ripple. It is about 5 miles north of downtown and offers more than enough options for you to enjoy yourself for an evening. Plus, the weather looks pretty promising for the weekend (highs in the mid-60s right now).
4. What about recommendations for places to eat?
There are no shortages of restaurants downtown. However, since you are in the Midwest, approximately 75% of the eateries are chain restaurants of some form. This is not an exaggeration, and I apologize in advance. The most obvious suggestion would be to hit up the aforementioned St. Elmo's--but reservations are a must (and deep pockets--expect to spend $100 a person or so). If you do go, the shrimp cocktail is a must. They use copious amounts of freshly grated horseradish for the cocktail sauce and smother fresh Gulf shrimp flown in daily. MotS would approve. For a more budget friendly option, try Harry and Izzy's which is right across the street (and owned by the same people as St. Elmo's). They also feature the same shrimp cocktail, but with a more casual menu.
Your other best bet for locally owned restaurants is in the Mass Avenue area, which offers a plethora of options from pizza and burgers (Bazbeaux's and Bru Burger Bar, respectively) to sushi, Cajun/Creole, English Pub and more. Another area that offers several eclectic options for dining is the Fountain Square neighborhood. Popular options here include Siam Square (Thai), Red Lion Grog House (pub food), Mama Erma's (Peruvian), Santorini's (Greek) and B's Po Boys (they get their bread straight from the Crescent City, so MotS would approve yet again).
In all seriousness, Yelp is your friend here.
5. All of that sounds like a good time, but what if I brought the family along for the weekend. What then?
Aside from the ND Fan Fest, there are plenty of family-friendly options downtown for your enjoyment. The headliner would be The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, which I believe is pretty self-explanatory. There is also the Indianapolis Zoo, the Eiteljorg Museum (American Indians and Western Art), and the NCAA Hall of Champions among others. A trip out to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway also might be on your list of things to do while in town--after all, how many sporting venues can boast a seating capacity of over 400,000 spectators? Plus, the $5 museum entry fee is well worth the investment. If museums aren't your thing, then you can always hit the Circle Center Mall if shopping is more your speed. All in all, Indy is a pretty family friendly city.
If you are making the trek to the Circle City to watch the Irish this weekend, enjoy. I think you will find it both very manageable and accommodating. If not, don't expect effusive apologies like our Canadian colleagues normally bestow upon the offended. Hoosier Hospitality only extends so far you know.