After Super Bowl setback, Indianapolis races to lure other events

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A stinging defeat for Indy’s quest to land the 2018 Super Bowl leaves a giant opening in the city’s convention schedule and brings new urgency to recruiting future sports events. And it raises questions about the timing and feasibility of redeveloping Pan Am Plaza and a possible expansion for USA Football.

Indiana Sports Corp. President Allison Melangton, captain of the Super Bowl bid team, plans to move quickly into negotiations for future Big Ten football and basketball championships, NCAA Final Fours and the 2020 Olympic trials.

Meanwhile, just a day after returning from Atlanta, where NFL owners voted to host the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, Visit Indy CEO Leonard Hoops was on the phone in his Indianapolis office trying to fill space the city had set aside.

rop-superbowl-15col.jpg The zip line along Capitol Avenue was one of many attractions that helped lure a million people downtown in the days leading up to the 2012 Super Bowl. A study showed visitors poured $175 million into the local economy that week. (IBJ file photo)

“We have 19,000 hotel rooms that were being held,” said Visit Indy spokesman Chris Gahl. “Now we have to fill those.”

While officials for Kite Realty Group said they still plan a multi-use facility with an upscale hotel on the Pan Am Plaza site, Visit Indy officials said the urgency to get it done by early 2018 is gone.

One thing that’s not gone is USA Football’s desire to move into a larger facility, including a research and training center. A new facility for the Indianapolis-based organization best known for its Heads Up Football program was a major part of the city’s proposed legacy project for the 2018 Super Bowl.

USA Football expansion

Indianapolis’ 2018 Super Bowl bid called for a legacy project that included building USA Football a $10 million to $15 million indoor and outdoor facility. It would have been a facility that not only the NFC champion could have practiced in during the week of the Super Bowl, but it was to serve as a research and training center where concussions and other football related injuries and their prevention could have been researched.

There’s no question USA Football still wants to expand. The organization, which operates out of rented downtown office space, has grown from 15 to 65 employees since moving to Indianapolis from Virginia in 2010. The organization recently started working in the high school football arena as well as in youth football, and executive director Scott Hallenbeck said he expects his organization to continue growing at a 10 percent annual clip. That means by 2018, the organization could have more than 90 employees.

The NFL has been a big supporter of USA Football’s Heads Up Football program, which works with coaches to teach children how to tackle and play football in a manner that limits their chances of head injuries.

“By all means, we still want to pursue [the new research and training facility,] Hallenbeck said. “That was on our drawing board even before it became part of the Super Bowl legacy project. We think it’s tremendously important for the future of football and more important for the future health and safety of young people.”

super bowlBut the plans might have to be scaled down to a $5 million to $10 million project, Hallenbeck said.

“Part of the indoor facility that was for the NFC team to practice in might have to be eliminated,” he said. “It would be nice to have, but maybe not an absolute necessity.”

The Indiana Sports Corp. would still be willing to consider working with USA Football on the project, Melangton said.

Filling city’s sports slate

Losing the 2018 Super Bowl doesn’t mean Indianapolis is starved for big sporting events.

Melangton said two of her organization’s top priorities are securing the rights to host future Big Ten men’s and women’s basketball championships and the football championship game and beginning preparations to pursue the 2020 Olympic trials.

While the bids for the 2020 Olympic trials are not due for another year or more, preparations for those bids often take considerable advanced planning.

More immediately, Melangton and her staff are in the midst of trying to secure Big Ten events for the city. With Big Ten officials increasingly looking to hold the conference’s biggest events on the East Coast, Melangton’s task appears to be getting tougher.

While you don’t replace the economic or marketing impact of a Super Bowl, Melangton said landing future Big Ten events “will be a key piece to the puzzle.”

Indianapolis is set to host the Big Ten Football Championship this year and next, but is in negotiations to host the event beyond that. Since the game started in 2011, Lucas Oil Stadium is the only home it’s known.

The city could have hosted the Big Ten Football Championship and Super Bowl within two months of each other, but now that the 2018 Super Bowl slot is vacant the city will be more eager to go after the December 2017 Big Ten title game, which typically draws about 65,000 visitors.

With the men’s Big Ten basketball tournament headed to Washington, D.C., in 2017, many speculate the gridiron championship could be headed the same direction.

After playing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this year, the Big Ten basketball tournaments are moving to Chicago next year and returning to Indianapolis in 2016. Indianapolis is in the running to get the tournaments back in future years.

The ISC also is pursing future Final Fours, and the bids for 2017-2020 are due in December. With the 2018 Super Bowl off the table, the ISC will be bidding to host either the 2018 or 2020 Final Four.

Beyond all the bidding, ISC officials are juggling other hosting jobs, including the 2015 men’s Final Four, 2016 women’s Final Four, 2016 Olympic diving trials and 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships, which Melangton calls “a huge, huge event.”

The four-day gymnastics championships at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is set to be nationally televised and draw national and international media attention.

As for the nearly $31 million raised from the corporate community to host the 2018 Super Bowl, it came in the form of signed pledges, so there’s no financial windfall for the ISC. Melangton, however, isn’t too concerned about securing the money needed to carry out her ambitious plans.

“We’ve always had a very cooperative and generous corporate community, and really when you think of all the volunteerism, it’s not just the corporate community,” Melangton said. “The community here has always been understanding of our goals and objectives, which are to make Indianapolis not only a great place to visit but to live.”

hallenbeck-scott.jpg Hallenbeck

Pursuing the Super Bowl in 2019 is off the table because the NFL has never played the Super Bowl in a cold weather climate two years in a row.

Tackling convention void

With 2018 four short years away, time is of the essence for Hoops and his sales staff to fill the Super Bowl void with a sizable chunk of convention business.

“Major conventions often book five to seven years in advance, so we have to move,” Gahl said. “We always had plan B and C in place. Now we’re acting on it.”

There aren’t many events the size of a Super Bowl up for grabs—and even fewer just four years out. So Visit Indy officials are looking at a variety of events small, medium and large to fill the hole. Due to the competitive nature of the business, Gahl declined to say which conventions Visit Indy is pursuing for early 2018.

“We certainly think the window is still there for us to bring in events in that time frame,” Gahl said.

In addition to the economic impact—$175 million in visitor spending from the 2012 Super Bowl according to a locally commissioned study—the city will sorely miss out on a marketing boost it was counting on from the 2018 Super Bowl.

“The 2012 Super Bowl had a marketing boost that had a ripple effect we still feel,” Gahl said. “With the Super Bowl drawing 5,000 journalists from all over the world, you just don’t replace that.”

Pam Am Plaza hotel

The right time frame to build a hotel on the Pan Am Plaza site is fuzzier now that Indianapolis won’t host the 2018 Super Bowl. Visit Indy’s Hoops said if the city had secured the game, the timing of that project could have been accelerated.

Officials for Kite Realty Group, which owns the site, said their interest in developing the prime parcel remains strong.

“We still think that site is the best remaining development parcel in the city,” said Kite spokesman Adam Basch. “We still have every intention of seeing this project through to its completion.

“Our main goal is to develop a project that is sustainable long-term. Your project has to be a lot more sustainable than a single weekend or week.”

Basch said the project called for a mixed-use development including an upscale hotel. Real estate sources said a twin 15- to 20-story tower scenario is possible.

There’s currently no “hard-and-fast” time table for the project, Basch said.

Visit Indy officials think hotel occupancy data show that a new downtown hotel will be needed in the not-too-distant future. A lot of current hotel operators, however, have cautioned that building one too soon could hurt their businesses—and jeopardize the strength of the entire market.

Visit Indy’s Gahl pointed out that downtown hotel occupancy grew from 65 percent in 2010—the year before the 1,005-room JW Marriott opened—to 70 percent in 2013. The total number of conventions held in Indianapolis during that time grew from 401 to 588.

“While the urgency to accelerate that development beyond the typical timeline for such a project is gone, we still think a hotel that would be connected to the Convention Center is best for that site,” Gahl said. “The question is when and how many rooms?”•


  • IDEA
    how about creating or hosting our own college bowl game? or going after the BCS title game?
  • Agree w/ Lee
    We need to resist the move to make the old GM stamping plant a justice complex with a jail on the river in the southwest quadrant of our dowtown. That area could be developed much more thoughtfully and could be the catalyst for revitalization of a once vibrant and culturally rich part of town. Placing the Justice Center complex out by the airport where the development costs are minimum and then focusing on fast and reliable public transit out from Cumberland to the airport would benefit the city in a number of ways that the center on the stamping plant would not.
  • Approach/Avoidance Conflict
    Highlighting the inherent dangers of a sport is not the right angle to entice same sport to city - as per the ill-fated Super Bowl Bid. Crown Hill, NFL? Puts a damper in the glamor, you see.
  • perhaps Indianapolis needs to focus on Professional and
    I think that perhaps Indianapolis needs to focus on getting more industry, technology, etc. in Indianapolis, rather than counting on just tourist industry. If they are really serious about attracting large meetings, Indianapolis needs attractions other than what we currently don't have, such as casinos, a true riverfront with naturalizing White River and terraforming it to be a real river in downtown, a River Walk with shops, restaurants overlooking it. Plus, rather than putting the jail near downtown at the GM plant, why didn't they consider a theme park like Riverside Amusement Park across from the Zoo. Really puts a damper on the area and the Zoo putting a jail and other facilities there. Only in Indiana could this happen. Why not a huge museum of science, industry, technology. Counting on a Super Bowl is a long shot event, winning this year was an impossibility with Minneapolis with a $1 Billion new arena. Fans want new places to go, not the same place nearly twice in a row. Also, rather than other Indiana cities getting industry, technology, other companies, what is Indianapolis and central Indiana doing to attract them. Makes one question why we don't have several Japanese auto plants, heavy equipment developers, etc. Indianapolis has lost electronics from the forefront of technology as well as many other industries. Seems that the city is going green and along with it all the good paying jobs are going to Evansville, Bloomington, Muncie, Greenfield, Columbus, Lafayette, Kokomo, etc. Indianapolis has lost big time in large companies and the production of actual product is disappearing.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

  2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

  3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

  4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

  5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!