Facing into Lucas Oil Stadium with their backs to the Indianapolis skyline, state and local officials said Friday the city will compete to host its second Super Bowl and bring thousands of people and millions of eyes to Indiana's capitol city.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said officials notified the National Football League on Friday that the city wants a chance to bid for the game in 2018. Several other cities – including Denver, Minneapolis and New Orleans – are expected to compete as well.
And despite what was overwhelming praise for the 2012 game in Indianapolis, Colts owner Jim Irsay said convincing NFL owners to give the city another Super Bowl will "take a mighty effort."
"I'm ready to do in and call in as many favors as I have from the other 31 owners," he said. "You'll see me blitzing on every down."
Still, the dignitaries gathered on a temporary platform near a Lucas Oil window that opens to the city said one after another that they believed the city could make it happen.
"I'm confident we'll be successful," said Republican Gov. Mike Pence.
"I know we're going to get it," said former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday.
Allison Melangton, president of the Indiana Sports Corp., said cities had to let the NFL know by Friday whether they were interested in hosting the game. NFL owners are then expected to narrow the list in October to a just a handful of cities that will be asked to submit formal bids in April. Finalists will then be asked to make in-person presentations at an NFL owners' meeting.
The Indianapolis effort will be led by a bid committee and supported by the Colts organization as well as state and city officials. Melangton said that cooperation makes Indianapolis unique.
By most accounts, Indianapolis successfully hosted the game in 2012. Sports and media officials praised the city's handling of big crowds and creation of a Super Bowl village with a zip line, concerts and festival atmosphere. On Friday, officials played a video montage of broadcasters praising the game's logistics, the fan experience and the thousands of volunteers who helped put together the event.
But the city has strikes against it as well. Even though Lucas Oil Stadium's roof and windows can be closed, it's still considered a cold weather venue. There are not as many downtown lodging options as in some cities and there are larger cities in the running.
"We don't sell the beaches and the palm trees and the oceans and those types of things," Irsay said. "But what we do sell is we do it better than anybody else and the personable type of hospitality and the way a city pulls together, we are the gold standard of how Super Bowls are run."
But the 2012 game dispelled concerns that the city was too small-market to handle such a big event, officials said.
said. "We did set the standard for future Super Bowl bidders. We changed the game."
Studies found that more than 1.1 million people – including thousands of Hoosiers and out-of-state visitors – took advantage of activities in Super Bowl village. And a report by Rockport Analytics found that the game resulted in $176 million in direct economic impact in the city.
That report also found that 84 cents of every dollar spent during Super Bowl XLVI remained in Indianapolis.
"I like those numbers," Ballard said. "I like that return on investment."
And Ballard said the impact has also been long lasting, with increases in business for the city's convention and tourism industry.
John Livengood, president of the Indiana Restaurant Association and Indiana Hotel and Lodging Association, said most of the game's impact was in Central Indiana – particularly in downtown Indianapolis. But he said visitors used hotels across the state and the overall impact was positive.
"It was so huge it was hard to quantify – not only for the restaurants and hotels that we represent but for the whole hospitality community, the retail community, the people who live in Central Indiana," Livengood said. "It was the best event ever. The idea that we're going for it again is just spectacular."
Lesley Weidenbener is managing editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.