It's the game the city's been waiting for more than four years.
But even though the 2-14 Colts aren't playing in this year's Super Bowl
Bowl, Indianapolis can still lose.
The $720-million Lucas Oil Stadium was built after
not-so-subtle hints the team might start loading up the Mayflower moving vans
once again and head to NFL-starved Promised Land of Los Angeles. The stadium
deal, which critics blast as one of the worst in the history of the major
sports leagues, was made slightly more palatable after National Football League
officials dangled a Super Bowl — and the accompanying millions in
economic benefits — in return.
But while some business owners will see a significant profit
in the day's leading up to the Feb. 5 match-up between the Patriots and the
Giants, officials with the city's Capital Improvement Board
Improvement Boardsay the agency is likely to lose nearly $1 million on the
Earlier this month, a CIB spokesperson told the Indianapolis Business Journal that
although they anticipate receiving more than $7 million in taxes from visitors
staying in hotels and renting cars over Super Bowl weekend, they will likely
spend $8 million after paying for increased police security, overtime costs and
That doesn't include the $187 million the city has spent on
infrastructure, including $11.5 million used to rebuild Georgia Street into an outdoor entertainment venue
About 68,000 fans will likely attend the game in person. By
contrast, that's about 10,000 more people than attend the average FFA
Convention. While the average Super Bowl fan is likely a bit more well-heeled
than a blue jacket-wearing teenager, the convention brings in an estimated $30-$40
million in direct visitor spending each year with few mammoth infrastructure
investments by the city.
Urban Indy blogger Curt Ailes
Ailesargues it's an apples and oranges situation.
"The Super Bowl is more of an entertainment option for
everyone, while the FFA is more geared toward the students and that industry,"
Ailes said. "The Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event in the world and
brings so many groups together, it deserves a special focus."
The economic impact of a Super Bowl is almost impossible to
accurately determine. Studies by Ball State's Michael Hicks and Holy Cross's Victor
Matheson disagree sharply about how much the event could bring into the local
Officials estimate visitors will spend $200 million at local
establishments over Super Bowl weekend, but Neil deMausse, author of the book Field of Schemes
Schemesand principal behind the website of the same name, agrees with
Matheson that the actual amount will likely only be a fraction of that. Hicks
didn't return multiple phone calls seeking comment.
"Any economic benefits brought from the Super Bowl are
vastly overstated," deMausse said. "And whatever benefit it will
receive isn't going to replace the hundreds of millions of dollars it took to
build the stadium.
" ... How do you define 'economic benefit?' Will $200
million change hands that weekend? Perhaps. But will it matter more to
Indianapolis than any other city? Probably not. The amount that will stay in
the area to benefit residents will only be a small sliver of that."
Most of the money that's brought in by tourists will leave
Indianapolis virtually as soon as the last down is played. Super Bowl advocates
claim the event will bring jobs to the area, but the latest figures from the
state show only a miniscule drop in the unemployment rate in the Indianapolis
metropolitan area, dropping from 8.3 percent in November to 8.2 percent in
And while downtown bar owners and hoteliers will likely see
a spike in profits, visitor dollars aren't expected to flow into the
surrounding suburbs. Even though the donut counties pay a food and beverage tax
to support Lucas Oil Stadium,
Oil Stadium,restaurant and bar owners likely won't see much of a Super
Bowl-related boost in profits from out-of-town guests.
In fact, the Super Bowl and its related activities could
adversely affect many suburban entertainment venues. Critics argue many local
residents would simply shift their spending from other local sites, such as
Carmel's Performing Arts Center or their local movie theater, to festivities
downtown, negating much of the promised financial benefit. Traffic and
crowd-congestion fears could keep other local residents from venturing downtown
— and spending money — at all.
Event proponents claim the event has other benefits, such as
introducing Indianapolis to a host of prominent business leaders and decision
makers who can decide to bring their businesses or lucrative conventions to the
city, but deMausse doubts there will be much of a lasting impact.
"I don't think anyone is going to make a major business
decision based on a short limo ride through the city on their way to the stadium,"
deMausse said. "Corporations decide to relocate primarily because of
infrastructure and educational opportunities. If Indianapolis was serious about
attracting new businesses to the area, they'd have been much better off putting
the money for the stadium and the Super Bowl into improving roads and schools."
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
University-Purdue University IndianapolisProfessor Susan Hyatt taught a
class last year on the effect of major sporting events on metropolitan areas.
She declined to delve too deeply into the economic aspects, but said the Super
Bowl could be a turning point for the city's image, both locally and nationally,
much like another major sporting event was 30 years ago for the city.
"Pride is one of those benefits you can't quantify,"
Hyatt said. "You still have people talking about the Pan-Am Games and how
exciting it was to have so many different people here. It certainly can affect
this generation of residents the same way. It's a good thing to make people
proud of where they live. We need to hope they (city officials and residents)
keep it going, to continue making Indianapolis a great place to visit and live."
Hyatt and Ailes both suggested the Super Bowl could help
provoke debate about other local hot-button topics, such as better public
"Not everyone who comes to the city wants to rent a car,
so if we want tourists to return to the city, it's important to have good,
reliable public transportation," Hyatt said. "There are going to be
special transportation options for Super Bowl visitors, but those will go away
(after the game). Better yet, we need better public transportation for the
people who actually live here."