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Indy airport helping city make strong first impressions

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The Indianapolis International Airport Authority and Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee know first impressions matter.

So they've hung Super Bowl-themed welcome signage at the city's 4-year-old airport terminal, deployed an army of Host Committee and Airport Ambassador volunteers to offer a personal greeting to arriving Super Bowl visitors, added new seating and additional wireless Internet capacity, and leased space for a massive temporary Lids Locker Room store offering NFL-licensed gear.

Indianapolis International Airport - Super Bowl XLVI(IBJ Photo/ Cory Schouten)

So far, so good.

ESPN's Colin Cowherd raved about the airport on his morning radio show, calling it the best he's seen.

And Fox Sports contributor Peter Schrager noted on Twitter, "The way every NFL writer is gushing about Indianapolis you'd think they were giving out free massages at the airport."

Not quite, but close.

"The airport is visitors' first and last impression of this city, and it's having the impact we'd hope it would have," said Chris Gahl, spokesman for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association. "Visitors are first impressed by the reduced taxi times from the runway to the terminal. Then they're telling us they are wowed by the convenient layout of the terminal, the architecture and the art exhibits."

Local restaurants at the airport including Harry & Izzy's and Shapiro's are making a particularly strong impression, he said.

And it's not just the $1 billion terminal that's scoring points.

The Airport Authority has brought on extra staff members and volunteers to welcome an estimated additional air-traffic load of 40,000 people, including those on 75 extra commercial flights and at least 60 charter flights. About 700 additional private planes are expected at local airports this week.

Airline staffers are making special welcome announcements upon landing in Indianapolis. Banners greet arriving passengers, with, "Welcome to Indianapolis" and "Super Bowl has arrived." Official Super Bowl beer sponsor Bud Light offers its own welcome on a massive banner hanging above the elevators to baggage claim.

"We wanted to really make the airport our welcome mat, and all the things happening out there really sets the tone for what's going on downtown," Gahl said.

The plaza between concourses is full of temporary kiosks and the massive Lids Locker Room store that's three times the size of the homegrown chain's traditional mall shops.

Another feather in the city's cap: The years-long reconstruction of the interstates 465 and 70 interchange is finally complete, giving visitors a smooth ride into downtown and an impressive view of a skyline bookended by JW Marriott and Lucas Oil Stadium.

Along the way, a billboard next to a giant checkered flag welcomes fans to the "Epicenter of Awesome".

"The visitor feedback has been tremendous so far," said John Dedman of the Super Bowl Host Committee. "People have given us a lot of overwhelmingly positive comments about the airport, city, hotels and other amenities."

But the busiest time for the airport won't arrive until after the clock runs out on Super Bowl XLVI late Sunday night. Passengers tend to trickle in upon arrival for the Super Bowl, but they leave all at once.

The Airport Authority is encouraging passengers to arrive three hours early and are opening counters at 3 a.m. the morning after the Super Bowl to accommodate early-departing crowds. The Transportation Security Administration is bringing in extra staff to open two extra screening lanes at each concourse.

And good news for fans of whichever team wins the big game: Licensed gear featuring the winning team will arrive in time for departing fans to spend a few final dollars in the Circle City.

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  • WOW !!
    From the Airport to Downtown, Indy looks GREAT. The folks that live here should be Proud!!
  • Welcome To Indy
    JC,

    Your right.

    It would be better if they gave everyone a beer when they arrived!
  • The Bud Light banner, really?
    I can't believe the Bud Light banner ... and ADVERTISEMENT ... gets mention as something positive in terms of creating a welcoming atmosphere at the airport.

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  1. Hiking blocks to an office after fighting traffic is not logical. Having office buildings around the loop, 465 and in cities in surrounding counties is logical. In other words, counties around Indianapolis need office buildings like Keystone, Meridian, Michigan Road/College Park and then no need to go downtown. Financial, legal, professional businesses don't need the downtown when Carmel, Fishers, North Indy are building their own central office buildings close to the professionals. The more Hamilton, Boone county attract professionals, the less downtown is relevant. Highrises have no meaning if they don't have adequate parking for professionals and clients. Great for show, but not exactly downtown Chicago, no lakefront, no river to speak of, and no view from highrises of lake Michigan and the magnificent mile. Indianapolis has no view.

  2. "The car count, THE SERIES, THE RACING, THE RATINGS, THE ATTENDANCE< AND THE MANAGEMENT, EVERY season is sub-par." ______________ You're welcome!

  3. that it actually looked a lot like Sato v Franchitti @Houston. And judging from Dario's marble mouthed presentation providing "color", I'd say that he still suffers from his Dallara inflicted head injury._______Considering that the Formula E cars weren't going that quickly at that exact moment, that was impressive air time. But I guess we shouldn't be surprised, as Dallara is the only car builder that needs an FAA certification for their cars. But flying Dallaras aren't new. Just ask Dan Wheldon.

  4. Does anyone know how and where I can get involved and included?

  5. While the data supporting the success of educating our preschoolers is significant, the method of reaching this age group should be multi-faceted. Getting business involved in support of early childhood education is needed. But the ways for businesses to be involved are not just giving money to programs and services. Corporations and businesses educating their own workforce in the importance of sending a child to kindergarten prepared to learn is an alternative way that needs to be addressed. Helping parents prepare their children for school and be involved is a proven method for success. However, many parents are not sure how to help their children. The public is often led to think that preschool education happens only in schools, daycare, or learning centers but parents and other family members along with pediatricians, librarians, museums, etc. are valuable resources in educating our youngsters. When parents are informed through work lunch hour workshops in educating a young child, website exposure to exceptional teaching ideas that illustrate how to encourage learning for fun, media input, and directed community focus on early childhood that is when a difference will be seen. As a society we all need to look outside the normal paths of educating and reaching preschoolers. It is when methods of involving the most important adult in a child's life - a parent, that real success in educating our future workers will occur. The website www.ifnotyouwho.org is free and illustrates activities that are research-based, easy to follow and fun! Businesses should be encouraging their workers to tackle this issue and this website makes it easy for parents to be involved. The focus of preschool education should be to inspire all the adults in a preschooler's life to be aware of what they can do to prepare a child for their future life. Fortunately we now know best practices to prepare a child for a successful start to school. Is the business community ready to be involved in educating preschoolers when it becomes more than a donation but a challenge to their own workers?

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