Bid says 2 new hotels possible before 2018 Super Bowl

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In a 900-page bid for the 2018 Super Bowl, Indianapolis officials list the possibility of two new upscale hotels opening downtown by the time the game is played.

Indianapolis Super Bowl Bid Committee Chairwoman Allison Melangton said at a press conference Wednesday morning that a new hotel on the Pan Am Plaza site and another where the Illinois Building stands at Illinois and Market streets are both possible by February 2018.

The Pan Am site is owned by Indianapolis-based Kite Realty Group and the Illinois building is owned by a subsidiary of locally based Keystone Realty Group.

In addition Wednesday, Indianapolis Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward announced that team owner Jim Irsay would attend the May 19-21 NFL owners meeting and would lobby for the city’s bid.

Irsay was arrested March 16 for allegedly driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance. He was admitted into an out-of-state rehabilitation clinic in mid-March.

Ward said Irsay is doing “really well,” but declined further comment.

Local hospitality executives said Indianapolis’ bid committee has been pressing the two property owners on their plans as local officials prepared the 2018 Super Bowl bid. The deadline to turn that bid into the 32 NFL team owners is Wednesday, with a local contingent flying to Atlanta on May 20 to give a 15-minute oral presentation.

Indianapolis, with more than 30,000 hotel rooms in the metro area, already meets the bid specifications to host a Super Bowl, Melangton said. But after hosting the 2012 Super Bowl, several owners and league sponsors complained the city didn’t have enough upscale downtown hotel space.

Melangton said the new hotels would be a boost for the 2018 bid.

“For some [NFL] owners, it could impact their thinking,” Melangton said. “It would be a nice addition.”

But Leonard Hoops, CEO of Visit Indy, the city’s tourism marketing arm, cautioned that too many new hotel rooms in the market could hurt existing hotels.

“You don’t build a church for Easter Sunday,” Hoops said.

Plans for both sites are somewhat sketchy. Neither Kite nor Keystone officials have disclosed specific plans for their properties, but sources familiar with both development proposals said they include an upscale hotel.

Those sources said it is a “much greater” than 50-percent chance that at least one of those hotels will be done in time for the 2018 game should the city win the bid, adding that Kite is further along with its planning than Keystone.

Keystone would be renovating an existing building, however, and that project might not take quite as long as construction of a new facility on the Pan Am Plaza site.

Kite and Keystone officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Pan Am Plaza site is an especially important one, said Hoops, because it’s less than a block from the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, and would likely be connected to both via skywalk.

Kite officials have previously acknowledged to IBJ they have plans for a mixed-use development on that site, including a high-rise hotel, restaurants, retail and high-end residential space. Hospitality sources said a 15-story twin-tower arrangement is being discussed for that site, featuring two hotel brands.

It’s likely that both developers would seek financial assistance from the city to complete their project. Deron Kintner, Indianapolis deputy mayor for economic development, said city officials haven’t had “detailed discussions” with either property owner.

Mayor Greg Ballard has not yet taken a position on the development of new downtown hotels or whether the city should help fund those developments.

“The mayor would have to see the plans and closely examine hotel occupancy and projections for convention and visitor growth in the city before taking any kind of position,” Kintner said.

Time appears to be of the essence. It would likely take three to four months to get any sort of comprehensive incentive package hammered out and approved for such a project. Real estate and hospitality experts said it would take two to four years to build a hotel.

If Indianapolis fails to win the bid, both developers are likely to tap the brakes on their plans, hospitality sources said.

Indianapolis is facing serious competition from the other finalists: Minneapolis, which is building a $975 million stadium, and New Orleans, which is celebrating its tricentennial in 2018.

A sports-hospitality expert said Irsay's help with the bid is likely to help Indianapolis in its effort.

“Jim Irsay is well-liked among NFL owners,” said Marc Ganis, a Chicago-based sports business consultant who counts several NFL teams as clients. “His presence is very important.”


  • The Mayor is Afraid
    I think the mayor is afraid to tell developers to build big. These guys pay-to-play, and have more power than even the mayor. It would be nice to have an elected official, that would insist on height requirements for prominent spots. They wasted an opportunity with Cummins, and now the Pan Am site will be "another" mid rise. This signals low ambition to the rest of the world. True story.
  • Twin Hotels Development.
    Wow 15 stories really,What happend to the so called twin 20 story towers they were proposing, Heck i even thought than they should had been taller than the 20 stories they were zeroing in on now this only 15,heck remember the 44 story intercontenitoe hotel for that site ,just imagin what that would had looked liked along with the 34 story jw,would had been an easy 2018 steal for indy and mightyer sky line to go with them, but only 15 ,for a city the size of indy and rated one of the best downtowns in the usa and increased visitors iam sorry but 15 is weak and sad,But who is to say they will or wont increase the height by the time its fully finalized like the jw that went from 25 to 34 stories when completed,You can only hope and wish.
  • No Significant Taxpayer Assistance
    Too funny. When is the last time any major project had no significant taxpayer assistance? You'd have to be the dumbest developer ever not to ask for that open-ended, golden egg. That precedent was set years ago and developers (campaign contributors) and politicians (favor returners) aren't going to change now.
  • Giant Eagle Market District
    I think a Giant Eagle Market District would be a great addition to the two hotel towers .
  • Good Locations
    Both of these sites provide good options. The Pan Am Plaza location is in a fantastic spot right next to the convention center and it will be new construction so you can build into it the right mix of amenities. Kite does quality work so I look forward to seeing what they have proposed for this site. The Illinois street location does have challenges but also is a beautiful historic building. This could be a great location for a 4 or 5 star specialty hotel that uses Valet parking. I think the historic charm can more than be a tradeoff for the challenges of this location. Keystone has done some great projects before so I am sure this will be a top tier product.
  • Poor Location?
    How is the Illinois building in a poor location? It is one block from Monument Circle, one block from Circle Centre, and four blocks from Lucas Oil.
  • Location Location Location
    Kite has the superior location & backing of savy investors that may not need any significant taxpayer assistance to get it done. Keystone's site is a long shot. (Poor location, no parking, etc) Jim Irsay should pitch in on this new hotel to give back to the community that has made him a billionaire.
  • Why Not?
    Why wouldn't you mention Irsay's arrest on what are likely to be felony charges. They could very well affect the bid.
  • Why?
    Why the need to mention that Irsay was arrested and for what? What does that have to do with the superbowl bid?
    • Illinois Building
      Hopefully they are thinking about putting a 21C in the Illinois Building. It would be a perfect spot for a boutique hotel.

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