Opinion and Editorials

EDITORIAL: Corporations, flex your muscles

September 7, 2013

Not every city can claim to have hosted a successful Super Bowl, and even fewer are showered with accolades for an event well done. Yet, that is precisely the momentum Indianapolis civic leaders enjoy as they set out to stage an encore performance.

When National Football League executives choose finalists next month to bid for the 2018 event, they will have pleasant memories of last year’s impeccable planning, imaginative zip line, Super Bowl Village and armies of friendly volunteers.

Corporate support proved crucial to last year’s Super Bowl, and the NFL owners can count on it again as they choose the handful of cities to bid.

Local executives who haven’t already done so should alert the organizers quicker than Andrew Luck can toss a screen pass to let them know they stand ready to help with another winning bid. Then the officials should make that commitment apparent in their application to host the event, and make it even more obvious if the city gets the nod to make a formal bid presentation to the owners in May.

Last year’s event was fueled by $28 million raised from 133 companies—the first time a Super Bowl city tapped such deep corporate reservoirs. Anteing up that much and more would go a long way toward improving the city’s chances against likely first-tier contenders New Orleans, Minneapolis and Tampa, Fla.

For the local corporations, this is about a lot more than civic pride and responsibility.

Supporting the bid results in tangible returns on investment for what amounts to a marketing buy. This event gets more eyeballs than any other in the world.

Then there are the intangible benefits of good will and enthusiasm with customers, suppliers and employees that comes with associating with a winner of an event.

Raising corporate support should be an even easier lift this time. Organizers established an enviable track record in 2012 and basked in praise heaped upon the city from around the world. Much of the risk has been taken off the table. What company wouldn’t want to get in on the act this time?

The economy is better now, too. To their credit, most of the companies that agreed to help underwrite the 2012 Super Bowl stood by their commitments despite the havoc wreaked by the Great Recession. Indianapolis’ track record of keeping its word won’t be lost on the NFL owners—most of whom presumably prefer doing business with people who do what they say they’ll do.

Organizers have $1.8 million of the $28 million they raised for 2012 left in the bank. The business community should pounce on the opportunity to rebuild the coffers and lend their expertise to boot.•

Send comments on this editorial to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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