Experience Buick NCAA Championship Weekend

IMG_1871Coming into this weekend and being from Boston, all I really knew about Indianapolis was I hated the Colts!  Come on, Peyton Manning and now Andrew Luck, there have been some epic battles over the years.  I knew absolutely nothing about the city itself.

Also, Boston is a great college town, but when it comes to NCAA sports were known more for football and hockey than basketball.  There have been a couple of teams that have made the tournament, but other than UMASS, I don’t think any have been real contenders.

With all that being said, I wasn’t really looking forward to this Experience Buick weekend.  A quick reminder, I have been participating in the Experience Buick program with several other bloggers to learn more about the Buick vehicles and how they are going about changing the image of the Buick name.  Based on the first trip, I knew Buick was going to spoil us rotten, and there would be plenty of great food and spirits.IMG_1715

I needed to put in a full day of work on Friday, so I missed the opening night dinner with the bloggers.  My flight landed around 11:30pm.  I was greeted by a Buick driver, grabbed my luggage and headed to the hotel.  At midnight on Friday, the streets of Indianapolis were still jumping!  You could tell it was a big weekend and had that championship feeling.

Saturday morning started with a walking tour of Indianapolis.  This is when I started to realize there were a lot of similarities to Boston and it seemed like a great walking city.  This would be confirmed on Monday, when I had a few hours to myself and put a lot of miles on my Reeboks!  Our tour included climbing 330 stairs (some of the bloggers took the elevator) of the Indiana Soldiers & Sailors Monument.  IMG_1785We then continued to walk over to the City Market area.  Here we did some shopping, but more importantly had a beer tasting at Tomlinson Taproom.  Tomlinson’s featured all local beers, so naturally I had to sample a few.  They brought out a sample tray of 4 of their most popular beers.  I thought it was my duty to help out some of the other bloggers with their samples as well.  The things I have to do on these trips!!

After a short down time, it was time for some basketball!  The Buick team escorted us over to Lucas Oil Stadium.  Yes, that is actually home of the Indianapolis Colts, but this weekend it was home to the NCAA Final Four.  Let me tell you, they packed the place.  There were over 77,000 crazy college fans, all decked out in their colors.  It was easy to see why Buick would be a main sponsor of this event.  From college students, to faithful alumni, Buick was reaching a tremendous demographic.  Not to mention all the fans who were watching from home.  The first game of Duke versus Michigan State wasn’t that competitive.  It seemed Duke was in complete control of this game.  The second game of the night was far more exciting.  The Wisconsin Badgers upset the favorite of the tournament, the University of Kentucky.  This upset pretty muched shocked the NCAA world.  The cool thing was that one of the other bloggers in the Experience Buick program was a huge Wisconsin fan.  Instantly I became a badger fan!

After some well needed rest, my second day began with a private tour of Lucas Oil Stadium.IMG_1870  As a guest of Buick and Buick being a primary sponsor of the event, our VIP tour began.  This tour took us backstage to the locker rooms, the media room, it concluded with us with the championship trophy and actually shooting hoops on the court.765

It was on the court that I realized how bad I am at basketball, how talented these college students are and it’s not as easy as they make it look to hit a 3-pointer.  There was no one in the stadium when I was shooting, I can’t imagine the pressure of making that shot with over 77,000 people watching.

After our VIP tour a few of us hopped into a Buick and drove over to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  This is the home of the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400.  I was absolutely amazed at how massive this facility was.  A 2.5 mile track with seating capacity of over 275,000 people and with infield seating puts it up to 400,000 people.  I was simply blown away.  I can tell you if I ever visit this track again, I will sign up for a driving program where I can actually drive an Indy or NASCAR around the track.  Might have to add that to my bucket list.

813When we returned, it was off to a local restaurant, “Spoke and Steele”.  When we were brought to our table, we were shown a custom drink called, “Down the barrel” that was actually in a barrel.  It was a great display and a great mix of white whiskey, vermouth, grand marnier and Fernet Branca.  Now as you know, I am a steak and potato guy.  I was looking at the menu wondering what I was going to eat.  Then, like an angel, our waitress came over and spoke the greatest words I had ever heard, “Not818 on our menu, but one of our most popular dishes is our 24 ounce on the bone steak!”  There was no question this was for me, and let me tell you the combination of this steak and the beverage was the best meal I had at the Championship weekend.

Monday morning was Championship game day.  After a nice run around downtown Indianapolis, we walked over to get a behind the scene view of the Buick marketing display at FanFest.  If you have never been to a championship weekend, there is always a fan experience to get the fans closer to the game.  Not only did Buick have their top models on display, there were interactive events and even a Buick Arena which was a basketball court for fans to go on and actually shoot hoops.  On display was 848Buick’s new convertible the “Cascada”.  This is Buick’s first convertible to market in over 25 years.  Now I first saw this car at the Detroit Auto Show, but had forgotten how sexy this car is.  Actually every time I step into a Buick I am amazed and honestly say to myself, “This is a Buick?”  Which aligns perfectly with their marketing campaign.  As I mentioned in my auto show blogs, I had forgotten about Buick as a brand and I am glad to be part of this program to learn more about these cars.  Not only the cars, but to learn more about GM as a company.

After our tour of the Buick display, we had a lot of downtime before the championship game.  I feel like I walked almost the entire of city of Indianapolis and was 889taken back by the beauty of this city and the tributes to our war heroes.  It seemed every turn I took there was another memorial or tribute.  I was glad I took the time to look around as I found an incredibly touching 9/11 tribute.  There were also monuments for the Korean War, Vietnam War, WWII and the U.S.S. Indianapolis Memorial.  Those are the ones I found and I am certain I missed a few more.  I was truly moved and taken back by these tributes.  Also, some of the architecture surrounding the city is breathtaking.  I honestly never knew Indy had so much to offer.

Monday night was the NCAA Championship game.  Duke versus Wisconsin.  As I mentioned above, one of our Buick Bloggers was a huge Wisconsin fan, so I jumped on the bandwagon.  I hope I wasn’t the curse, but it really was a great game.  When the final whistle blew, Duke University raised the NCAA championship trophy like I had done just 24 hours earlier.

679As I was headed to the airport on Tuesday, I had a few final thoughts.  The first was the City of Indianapolis was working hard to shed the negative press the State has received since the passing of the new, controversial legislation giving businesses the right to turn away customers.  There were signs on many of the businesses saying, “this business serves everyone”, and there were buttons displaying, “Indy welcomes All”.

My second thought was how impressed I am with the IMG_2029Buick brand.  At first I didn’t understand the partnership with the NCAA Championship, but as I learned more it all seemed to make sense.  Then having the chance to drive a Buick, I will certainly be taking a closer look the next time I purchase a car.  If I continue to take pictures of the Cascada, my wife may have one in the driveway sooner rather than later.

My final thought as my driver was taking the off ramp to the airport was the amazing group of people that are in the “experience Buick blogging program”.  I am in awe of their work and amazed at their creativity.  If you have Instagram, please take a look at these profiles and follow them to see some of their creativity; @greaseandglamour, @trendhunter, @ClementineDaily, @apparatusmag, @thecultureur, @andi_fisher, @evolveent, @loisaltermark and @gorgeousingrey believe me, you will be glad you did.

Once again, I can’t thank Buick enough for the “Experience Buick” program and inviting me to an incredible weekend!  I took far too many pictures of this weekend, to see them all, please visit my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/gottahavegadget





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