Indianapolis loses Super Bowl bid to Minneapolis and its new stadium

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ATLANTA—Despite having what several NFL executives said was the strongest proposal, Indianapolis lost out on its bid to host the 2018 Super Bowl.

The championship game instead was awarded by the 32 NFL team owners on Tuesday to Minneapolis. New Orleans also made the final trio of candidates. Indianapolis was the first city eliminated in owners' voting.

Team owners are in Atlanta for their annual spring meetings. On Monday and Tuesday, most league insiders believed Indianapolis was running third in a three-horse race.

New Orleans, the most experienced of any Super Bowl host city, had proposed to kick off the city’s 300th birthday party with the 2018 Super Bowl, and Minneapolis bragged about a taxpayer-funded $975 million stadium that will be open in time for the game.

“Those are two very serious opponents,” said Chicago-based sports business consultant Marc Ganis, who counts several NFL teams as clients. “It’s a tough position for Indy, despite the stellar job they did hosting the Super Bowl in 2012.”

Despite offering to build a multi-million dollar training and research facility for NFL-backed USA Football to study concussions and other health issues plaguing the sport —and that Indianapolis was the only city to have already raised all the cash it would need to host the game—NFL owners still didn’t buy the city's sales pitch.

Not even the surprise recruitment of retired Colt turned broadcaster Jeff Saturday for the city's presentation on Tuesday helped put Indy over the goal line. Saturday is not only popular with current and former NFL players and Indianapolis Colts fans, but he also gained the respect of team owners by helping settle the 2011 labor dispute between owners and players which threatened to shorten or kill that season.

The addition of Saturday and the city's plans for a legacy project addressing pressing needs in the NFL "is genius," said an executive of one NFL team before the owners' decision.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard congratulated Minneapolis but praised his home city's bid.

“Indy’s Bid Committee put forward a very compelling presentation that stayed true to our belief that these events are about ‘more than a game’ by focusing on long-term betterment of our community and player safety," Ballard said in a statement.

Saturday and Indiana Sports Corp. CEO Allison Melangton gave their pitch to the 32 owners in a behind-closed-doors session at around 2:15 p.m. Indianapolis was the third contingent to make its bid, behind Minneapolis and then New Orleans.

After Indianapolis was eliminated, Melangton kept a smile on her face. "We put evrything on the table," she said. "[Losing] is part of the bid process."

Minneapolis hosted one Super Bowl previously, in 1992 when the Washington Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills at the Metrodome. Construction began in December on the Minnesota Viking’s new stadium, which will receive about $500 million in taxpayer funds. It is expected to be complete by 2016.

“It was the centerpiece of our Super Bowl bid,” Minnesota Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf said in a press conference. “We emphasized that we’re at a critical juncture of our stadium. It will help the community realize that this is a world-class venue. I think the league has recognized that as well. It validates that with this type of event.”

U.S. Bancorp Chief Executive Officer Richard Davis, who served as co-chairman of Minneapolis’s bid committee, said he anticipates at least 100,000 visitors will come to Minneapolis for the game, where the average temperature in February is 29 degrees Fahrenheit.

It's unclear what impact the March arrest of Colts owner Jim Irsay on charges of driving under the influence and drug possession had on the voting. Several league and team officials speculated before the vote that it could be a drag on Indy’s bid. Irsay, however, has long been one of the most well liked owners among the group, those sources told IBJ.

There was plenty at stake for all three cities. Sports economists and NFL officials estimate the annual economic impact on the host city between $150 million and $300 million. A study commissioned by Indianapolis’ 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee reported that visitor spending in Indianapolis related to the 2012 Super Bowl tallied $175 million.

It’s not clear what’s next for Indianapolis. Melangton, who headed up the bid committee, said no contingency plans have been made to seek a future Super Bowl.

Some in Atlanta certainly think the Indianapolis contingent should try again. ESPN’s NFL reporter Adam Schefter said Monday that he thinks Indianapolis should be a part of a five-year Super Bowl rotation. ESPN and former CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell said on Monday that Indianapolis in 2012 hosted “by far the best Super Bowl ever.”

The Indianapolis Super Bowl bid committee, Melangton said, will take a moment to catch its breath before starting to analyze in the coming days and weeks what—if anything—went wrong in the city’s bidding effort. It included a 900-page written bid and an oral presentation including high-tech multimedia elements. Only then, will local officials and Irsay decide whether or not to give it another go.

This story will be updated.


  • RE: Fletchmom
    Fletchmom, you are spot on. Indy's Super Bowl in 2012 was a gift from the NFL owners for building a new stadium. Let's be honest, Indianapolis is a terrible city to host an event in February. We got lucky with the weather in 2012.
  • Regain Sense
    Fact is Indianapolis got a token SB because of the new stadium. Minneapolis gets a token SB due to their new stadium. Maybe we can all get back to reality and realize Indianapolis is a terrible place for a SB compare to the large city warm weather sites with beaches, mountains , cool stuff to do and see....lets all just get back to reality.
  • Newer Stadium?
    Well, we know what this means! Raze Lucas Oil and build an even bigger temple for our football fetish/religion!
  • Kelly...Get a Grip....
    I was downtown during the Super Bowl, it was NOT scary, lol. Take a chill pill already. They did a great job during the Super Bowl. It was the best one in years. The stuff we did is now SOP for Super Bowls. You need to chill out, lol. Wow. And to IBJ, can you use Facebook or Twitter comments. I hate your Captcha system, lol. It is a PAIN!
  • Got any names to go with this reporting?
    "Despite having what several NFL executives said was the strongest proposal, Indianapolis lost out on its bid to host the 2018 Super Bowl." What journalism school graduates a reporter who essentially uses anonymous sourcing to suggest Indy got screwed when it had the "best bid?" If you can't name names, it doesn't matter and considering we got eliminated in the first round of voting, the entire assertion seems pretty suspect. Odds were stacked against us once Minneapolis entered the race and if organizers were smart they would have saved our bid (and the $ spent on it) for another time.
  • Stay Hungry Indy
    This did not go the way we wanted, but we cannot get down or become complacent. It is time to go after a political convention, the NBA All Star Game, and maybe the NFL Draft ( supposed to be leaving NYC). Developing more high rise apartments, a world class park, and better transportation will get us recognition from peer cities and show we are a player among US top cities. Time to get back to work. This city is awesome and this keeps the chip on our shoulder to keep striving to be better.
  • Okay Can Ballard and his Minions Focus on Real Business
    Dear Mayor Marine can you stop with the grafting and focus on Stop 11 Road from Bluff to MeridianStreet. It isthemost travelled east west artery in Perry TWP. It is like off roading and extremely UNSAFE!! That is your job.
  • Build it and they will come
    Very obvious that NFL ownership is sending a very strong message: obtain funding, develop a new stadium, and you are pretty damn certain a SuperBowl will be in the works. Not certain "The Minny Apple" can come close to Indianapolis (or Miami/New Orleans) as a complete-package SuperBowl locale but the logic of the NFL seems consistent. Granted, any room with Jerry Jones considered an elder statesman isn't exactly a Mensa convention. Or even for that matter a small-county fair butterfly knife salesman convention.
  • Too Bad
    Too bad, now we can't use the money that we would have made to fix our roads, hire more police officers, fight crime, etc. like we did with all the money we made from our last super bowl!!!
  • DNC convention
    Hey Mayor Ballard, what will your excuse NOW be to not bid for the DNC national convention????
  • Nice Try
    The day he got busted the deal was over. Nice try at saving face.
  • Friday night
    Kelly, you are so right. Friday night of Super Bowl week was one of the scariest moments of my life. There were so many times I thought that I was going to get trampled or crushed to death. Indianapolis is so lucky there wasn't a mass tragedy that occurred that night.
  • Three letters killed our bid
  • $30 million
    Its so easy to raise $30 million for this, but when money is needed for schools, roads, cops, there is never enough money. Thank you NFL owners for doing what is best for the city of Indianapolis!
  • Be careful of what you wish for...
    While Indy hosted a wonderful Super Bowl a couple of years ago, we were unbelievably lucky with the weather, which contributed hugely to the success of the event. Had the temperatures been normal for that time of year, I dare to say the outcome would not have been nearly as successful. If we get another Super Bowl down the road, I hope the committee really prepares better for cold weather and spreads the activities through several streets in the downtown area, as the heaters over-head were not sufficient for cold weather and the crowds were so large in such a confined space that many people were almost trampled to death on Friday evening. It was really scary.
  • RE:whew
    Though the tax revenue generated would of far exceeded the tax burden, we will instead have to direct our tax dollars to the modern day alchemy: Climate Change.
  • short cited
    Indy reps unfortunately regurgitated the 2012 rendition with no new glam. The city must endeavor to new heights and less four story stick framed brand new apartments where I can hear my girlfriend's neighbor flush the toilet. Light rail to union station airport someday through the first superbowl village unto the second onto Fishers. union station could feature a downtown casino like our Queen City neighbor and the adjacent Kite development at Pan Am Plaza can reach significantly higher than the 21 floors currently slated. At that locale, the cosmo five stars will be waited with baited breathe to lease Indy skys away. Move forward with the concussion institute and save football. Dare to have the NFL say no. also, consider Mark, Ryan or Irsay's daughters speak on behave of the city. please and thank you.
  • Dingbat Italiano
    Italiano, there weren't any tax dollars used for this bid in the first place. They have been saying that all along. So where have you been? So there wasn't an impact to taxes at all. They had raised $30 million in advance over any other city bidding. Go back to eating pasta....
  • GOOD!
    Maybe the mayor and the rest of the downtown mafia can now focus on the city and the majority of its citizens who would not benefit one bit from hosting the Super Bowl.
  • Ummmm, no Ritz?
    Bad choice on hotels, Todd. Minneapolis/St. Paul doesn't have a Ritz, either. Or a Conrad. This vote came down to the new stadium.
  • Nothing went wrong!
    Nothing went "wrong." Indy had a terrific proposal but so did the other two cities. Shooting 20 under par at the Masters but having someone else shoot 21 under is no embarrassment.
  • whew
    think of the tax savings
    • What went wrong
      I will tell you what went wrong. The main decision makers are a bunch of rich old coots who dislike small market cities. We put the best idea out there and they still chose someone else. Sorry, Indy doesn't have a Ritz Carlton "yet"! Snobby rich people.
      • Somewhat shocked
        I am slightly surprised. I didn't think Indy would get it, but I thought that NOLA would get it and then the owners would vote to give 2019 to Minny. Congrats Minny! Can't wait to see the new stadium.

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