Indy's Super Bowl bid posse ready to roll out secret speaker

May 15, 2014
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Anyone in sales knows the importance of a good closer.

As a sports guy, when I think of an ace closer, I think of some stud coming out of the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth to save the day. I used to love in back in the 1970s and 1980s when the closer was ushered in on a golf cart with a top shaped like the team's baseball helmet. I also loved it when the San Diego Padres played the song Hell's Bells when they brought in ace reliever Trevor Hoffman.

I don't think the Indianapolis Super Bowl bid committee will be playing Hell's Bells on Tuesday when they bring out their ace closer at the Ritz-Carlton in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, but it should be no less dramatic. On Tuesday Indianapolis, along with Minneapolis and New Orleans, will make their oral bids for the 2018 Super Bowl. They are each allowed two presenters who are given 15 minutes to wow the fickle owners.

Indy's Super Bowl bid boss Allison Melangton is so amped about who will give the city's closing pitch Tuesday, she refused to tell reporters last week who that would be. That person won't be identified to the public until Monday in Atlanta.

It will be interesting to see who the bid committee comes up with. In 2007, when Indianapolis unsuccessfully bid for the 2011 Super Bowl, city officials called on beloved coach Tony Dungy.

In 2008, when the city bid for and won the right to host the 2012 Super Bowl, the bid committee was a bit more unconventional. It chose then Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White. His ties to the legacy project involving Tech High School no doubt influenced that decision. If you ever met White, even briefly, you know what a big impression he can make.

Your guess is probably about as good as mine who will make the closing arguments on Indianapolis' behalf this time around. I know one thing. It won't likely be a current politician. The NFL has asked bid committees a few years back not to have mayors and governors involved in the pitch.

I polled fellow IBJ editorial staffers to see who they thought might make good closers for Indianapolis. I got some interesting guesses.

First, let's remove two obvious candidates. It won't be Indianapolis Colts Coach Chuck Pagano, who beat cancer in 2012 and tugged at the heart strings of a nation of sports fans. I was told Thursday, he won't be in Atlanta for the meetings.

I'd be stunned if it was Colts QB Andrew Luck. As engaging as he is, I don't think the young, emerging star is the right man for this job. NFL owners want to hear from a voice of experience. Someone with a certain stature that a 20-something just doesn't have.

Forget Josh Kaufman. The local singer who recently made it big on the TV series The Voice is a little too Johnny Come Lately. Besides, I'm not sure The Voice is on the radar of many NFL owners. But who knows.

How about former Gov. Mitch Daniels? The Purdue University president certainly has the stature. But he's probably a bit too political and a tad removed from the Indy scene at this point.

One of my editors suggested Craig Huse or some other executive connected with St. Elmo Steak House. Hmmm. That's a tasty idea. I do know that St. Elmo made a huge impression not only at the 2012 Super Bowl, but at the 2010 and 2011 Super Bowl when they flew in their famous shrimp cocktail. St. Elmo shrimp was also part of the previous bid.

Another editor pondered if it could be Josh Bleill, the former Marine who lost both his legs while on duty in the Middle East. Bleill currently works for the Colts and is a very moving motivational speaker. He'd be an interesting choice.

Other suggestions included:

-- Hoosier author John Green

-- Someone involved with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway revitalization

-- An IndyCar Series driver or team owner

-- An Eli Lilly & Co. big-wig

-- Someone tied to the Indianapolis Prize.

In the final analysis, everyone in the IBJ newsroom that I asked said it's just so difficult to know who or what would sway the 32 millionaires that make up the group of NFL owners.

Minneapolis and New Orleans, the other two finalists to land the 2018 Super Bowl thus far are being less secretive about their bid presenters.

New Orleans' powerbroker presenters will be New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau President Steve Perry and Entergy Executive Vice President Rod West.

Minneapolis presenters will be their bid committee co-chairs, business owner Marilyn Nelson Carlson and Ecolab CEO Doug Baker. They may not have a secret closer, but they have told Minnesota reporters this week and last that they have "secret weapons."

This process has more intrigue than an Agatha Christie novel. As for who Indy's secret closer will be, only time will tell.

Until Monday, though, let the speculation begin. Who you got?

  • Manning
    None of the people mentioned in the article have shock factors. The committee is going for a real WOW factor. I would put my money on PEYTON MANNING
  • Indy SB Secret Weapon
    It's simple. Top Ten Reasons to have SB in Indy, read by David Letterman.
    • Speculation
      I am going out on a limb and going with the man responsible for bringing the Colts to Indy. Former Mayor Bill Hudnut.
    • Please, Please, Please Let It Be Jim Neighbors.
      Honest to goodness let's put an end to this Super Bowl BS. Absolutely hoping for abject failure. There is a lot more this city could do with $30 million than host a weekend-long part for a handful of jock sniffing elites. We garner just as much good will from a Monday night game and don't lose millions in the process. Plus the Monday Night game doesn't take away from the things that could really put this city on the map - the arts, education, supporting small businesses, fixing potholes that can swallow a VW Beetle. The Super Bowl is lipstick on a pig. If Indy wants to be a real city, then we need to do the real work and make the hard decisions to indeed, be legit. The Super Bowl is a super waste for all but a very, very, very select few. So Jim, sing your heart out. Good luck Minneapolis.
      • Ignorance is bliss
        Glad to see ignorance is alive and well and Indy as usual. The donations are private funds not taxpayer money. It is also spelled Nabors.
      • Out of the box
        I don't know her name but the women who lost her legs saving her kids in the Tornado. That's the kind of thinking that gets Indy these events.
      • Go away, Garland
        Go away, Garland. Far, far away. And I don't care what kind of economic impact you have on the city, if any at all.
      • Kid Involvement Again?
        If you remember back with the first bid, it was commented about how big of an impact having the kids deliver the bid packages made. Since (to my knowledge) they have not utilized something similar to date, I am wondering if somehow an Indianapolis child or children won't somehow play a part? Just a total guess as it seems from the comments it will be out of left field and not an "obvious" choice (Letterman, Dungy, Manning, etc).
      • Closer
        My guess is Ball State University grad and Apple COO, Angela Ahrendts is the closer.
      • Mike for the win
        Thumbs up to Mike's guess of Top 10 by David Letterman.
      • Unique Strategy
        Vladimir Putin on a horse (Colt) will go out and speak in favor of both Minneapolis and New Orleans thus securing it for Indy.
      • Mike great idea
        I think a Letterman top 10 is a grand slam. Hope your right. As for Garland - just go away
      • Kids?
        The kids had a big impact in the last winning bid? How about having one of the kids impacted by the project at Tech High School? "Before the super bowl came to Indy in 2012, she wasn't sure she was headed to college. Now studying nuclear engineering at Harvard University..."
      • Fun & Food
        Hoosier Ted Allen from food networks show Chopped

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      1. So as I read this the one question that continues to come to me to ask is. Didn't Indiana only have a couple of exchanges for people to opt into which were very high because we really didn't want to expect the plan. So was this study done during that time and if so then I can understand these numbers. I also understand that we have now opened up for more options for hoosiers to choose from. Please correct if I'm wrong and if I'm not why was this not part of the story so that true overview could be taken away and not just parts of it to continue this negative tone against the ACA. I look forward to the clarity.

      2. It's really very simple. All forms of transportation are subsidized. All of them. Your tax money already goes toward every single form of transportation in the state. It is not a bad thing to put tax money toward mass transit. The state spends over 1,000,000,000 (yes billion) on roadway expansions and maintenance every single year. If you want to cry foul over anything cry foul over the overbuilding of highways which only serve people who can afford their own automobile.

      3. So instead of subsidizing a project with a market-driven scope, you suggest we subsidize a project that is way out of line with anything that can be economically sustainable just so we can have a better-looking skyline?

      4. Downtowner, if Cummins isn't getting expedited permitting and tax breaks to "do what they do", then I'd be happy with letting the market decide. But that isn't the case, is it?

      5. Patty, this commuter line provides a way for workers (willing to work lower wages) to get from Marion county to Hamilton county. These people are running your restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and retail stores. I don't see a lot of residents of Carmel working these jobs.