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
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
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.
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."
Weidenbener is managing editor of
TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism
students and faculty.