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Indy hotels struggle to fill up
Ticket sales for Sunday's Indianapolis 500 are holding steady, but race fans and sponsors appear to be cutting corners this year, opting for cheaper choices that could put a pinch not only on local hotels but on the economic impact of the city's most significant tourism event.

What's happening at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel is just one example. The hotel is usually sold out by now, said Mitch Divens, assistant director of sales at the Sheraton. Instead, the hotel's occupancy was at 85 percent Tuesday afternoon.

Divens said a key reason is that corporate business from companies that sponsor cars has dropped off this year.

"There are (regulars) that are not coming anymore, companies that have dropped out as being sponsors," Divens said. "Those companies are not traveling here as groups anymore."

To make up some ground, the Sheraton decided to drop its normal three-night-stay restriction for the weekend.

Still, Divens expects occupancy to be down 5 percent to 8 percent over last year by the time the 500 comes and goes.

The Sheraton is not alone. The Hilton and Omni Severin also are dropping their three-night-stay minimum. In addition, the Omni Severin is trying to lure guests with a $100 credit for food and drinks at the hotel. The Hilton is allowing guests to cash in rewards for Sunday and Monday, which typically are blackout days. Indy Star

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