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New hotel brings more people downtown for game day

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - 

South bend’s tallest building opened its doors as the new Aloft Hotel just a month ago.

Since then it has been drawing more people downtown and creating a bump in business for local companies.

This is the first Aloft Hotel in the state, but business owners say it’s still a strong brand to have here.

It especially adds traffic downtown on game day weekends.

Last weekend the hotel was sold out for the USC game. Although there are still rooms available for the upcoming game on Saturday, business owners anticipate more people coming through their doors.

“Notre Dame has really built a great brand that draws a lot of people just who are Notre Dame fans. It’s not so much who the visiting team is,” said Mark McDonnell, owner of LaSalle Grill.

For South Bend Chocolate Company downtown, Store Manager Sherri Huffer increased staff, saying there have been visibly more people downtown.  

“We’ve seen quite a few more, definitely, the increase in business in the morning time before the games,” she said. “You can see people outside, they’re walking downtown, they’re everywhere.”

McDonnell pushed for the bill that funded smart streets. That bill he says lead to the Aloft Hotel in South Bend by adding value to developer’s investments and creating a more pedestrian friendly environment.

He has been preparing for these home game weekends, and the boost in business they bring, but he says he looks forward to the business the hotel will add throughout the year.

“Instead of staying up north or in Mishawaka, people will choose, hopefully the business travel will choose one of the three hotels downtown here, which are all located within two blocks of LaSalle Grill and many other restaurants,” McDonnell said.

He says he hopes the hotel will bring Monday through Thursday business after the game ends and the fans leave.  

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