Indy Re-enters the Super Bowl Fray

Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay, then-Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mayor Greg Ballard and Mark Miles of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (and now chief executive of Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Hulman and Co.) watch a highlight roll from the Super Bowl in Indy at a press conference last year announcing their intention to consider another bid. Last Friday, Indianapolis submitted its formal bid to be the NFL's 2018 Super Bowl host city.

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.

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