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Get ready for a week unlike any Indianapolis has seen

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Few cities can host a big event like Indianapolis, what with its namesake 500-mile race that attracts 300,000 people annually and the NCAA Men’s Final Four, which regularly brings 70,000 into the compact downtown.

But Super Bowl XLVI will be different. Everything from security to traffic will be heightened as the city comes under the spotlight of international attention for more than a week leading up to the NFL’s championship game Feb. 5.

About 150,000 visitors are expected to pour into the region beginning in late January. But locals also will have opportunities galore to get involved in events and activities that may never come again.

Sports goliath ESPN is setting up an outdoor studio in Pan Am Plaza, producing 110 hours of programming from its temporary epicenter. Three blocks of Georgia Street is being transformed into Super Bowl Village, an entertainment zone billed as an “interactive festival of football.” And a 650-foot zip line perched above Capitol Avenue will provide an unusual perspective on the city.

Getting around Indianapolis, particularly downtown, will be a challenge. Not only will some streets be closed in stages as the game approaches, but some parking operators are considering moving regular customers to lots farther from the game and renting the spaces at higher prices.

Many restaurants will be a zoo, and crowds will only swell as the game approaches—to the point that your only realistic option may be to grab a bite from a street vendor. It will be a good time to hole up in a favorite undiscovered spot (or pack a PB&J).

You’ll be able to buy things you’ve never seen for sale in Indianapolis. Always pined for a pair of thigh-high python skin boots? Retailers sold them for $5,000-plus during the Super Bowl last year in Dallas. Maybe your chance is coming.

So prepare to have fun. The festivities begin soon.

Click here for IBJ's complete coverage of the big event.

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