NFL must reward Indy if it wants city in future Super Bowl hunts

May 21, 2014
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ATLANTA—I was told many times this week by various sources that Indianapolis didn’t have much of a chance in its quest to host the 2018 Super Bowl.

I didn’t believe it. Or at least I didn’t want to.

The skeptic, cynic and perhaps conspiracy theorist in me thinks now, in retrospect, perhaps those people were right.

After all, Minneapolis will have its new $975 million stadium—half of which is funded by the public sector—by 2018, and New Orleans will be celebrating its 300th birthday that year. All Indianapolis packed was a stellar track record from hosting the 2012 Super Bowl and the best bid.

Minneapolis and its new stadium won out here Tuesday, with the 32 NFL owners making their decision on the fourth ballot. With the least number of votes of the three bidders, Indianapolis was unceremoniously tossed out after the first vote.

After learning everything I could about all three bids and about how Indianapolis’ bid was far more lucrative to the NFL than the other two bids, a thought kept creeping into my head. Why was Indy invited here at all?

NFL executives and team owners had other options. Dallas, Miami and Tampa also sought the game, but were nixed by the league in December.

The answer to that question is simple. Remember what I wrote just a few paragraphs ago. Indianapolis had the best bid. And it isn’t just me saying that. A half dozen sources here this week told me the same thing.

What better way to push New Orleans and Minneapolis to put their best foot forward than throwing the Paul Bunyan of event bidders and hosters in the arena?

The NFL’s Super Bowl boss, Frank Supovitz, came into the Indianapolis bid committee’s war room on the second floor of the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead shortly after the vote Tuesday. I’m sure it was mostly a formality, but he seemed extra effusive in his praise of Indiana Sports Corp. President Allison Melangton and the rest of the Indy bid team.

“It was a great, great proposal,” Supovitz told Melangton. “You guys did a tremendous job. You raised the bar.”

Again, maybe it’s the cynic in me, but it was almost like he was begging Indy officials to bid again—to raise the bar some more. And why not?

Without Indy, there’s no Super Bowl Boulevard, now a mandate for any host city. And no Super Bowl social media command center, another NFL mandate for the game that was pioneered at the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Indy also set the standard for merchandise sales at the NFL Experience.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said when city and state officials are ready to make another Super Bowl bid, he’s ready to lead the charge.

But Supovitz and other NFL officials must know this; though Indiana often gets rapped for being a bunch of country bumpkins with an uncommon sense of hospitality, Hoosiers are not fools. They have a logical fiscal sensibility.

Despite criticism they get from some within their own borders, those in charge of putting together Indianapolis’ event bids are not so starry eyed over the Super Bowl that they’re going to disregard the cost in human resources and cash it takes to put a bid together.

The 900-page 2018 Super Bowl bid created by Melangton and her group took lots of time and resources away from other endeavors they could have been pursuing.

So here’s the deal. I think Indy would be willing to jump back in the ring, and even at times play pusher if the NFL needs them to. But certainly not for nothing.

There’s got to be a quid pro quo. If the NFL wants Indianapolis in the hunt, it’s got to give it a bone. It’s got to put Indy in a regular Super Bowl rotation. If the city can do the Final Four every few years, why not the Super Bowl?

The question is, how often would Indianapolis have to be awarded the game to make its pursuit worthwhile. Every 26 years—like the course Minneapolis is on—isn’t going to get it. I’d say some indication that Indianapolis would host a Super Bowl every eight to 10 years would be enough to keep the city coming back like Pavlov’s dogs.

But if the NFL keeps ringing that bell and doesn’t offer any food to absorb the salivation, eventually that dog is going to bite it.

  • Sooner rather than later
    Hear, hear, Anthony -- Indianapolis is going to figure out the score and sooner rather than later. Enough of being bridesmaid, time to be the bride or invest our efforts elsewhere. We'll continue to 100% support our Colts, but we have great things going on in this city and don't need to invest our resources in building an already flourishing business elsewhere (the NFL). Let's lick our wounds for a few days and then not look back. Major kudos to Alison Melangton & her whole crew for a most awesome presentation. You did us proud and we thank you.
  • NFL must reward
    the problem is that the NFL has ALL of the leverage.
  • Cluesless
    This article made me laugh out loud. Completely clue less.
  • GB is clueless
    For once, I agree 110% with Anthony. The NFL wants to steal our ideas for other cities Super Bowls in the future. Plain and simple. I think this is a huge slap in the face and we should say screw you to these elitist. When the best idea does not win, you are in a dog and pony show. We are Indy, let's kick butt in something else and show these nimrods a thing or two!
  • others
    As others have said, the NFL and the owners hold all the cards on these decisions. Indy doesn't have leverage. Also, 2019 will probably go to San Fran as they are building a new stadium that will be finished right before then. I would be that if you took a poll of the owners they would rotate between Arizona, NOLA, and Miami on a regular basis as hosts. Same as if you took a poll of the NCAA they would want to rotate the final four between Indy, San Antonio, and NOLA.
  • 100% spot on!
    I said when Indy made the final three that it was Minneapolis' to lose and that Indy and N.O. were just there to keep the Twin Cities honest with their bid. Plus the NFL knows how much better Indy is at hosting major events than anybody else and they knew there would be some incredible ideas in Indy's bid. I guarantee you that the NFL will require bidders to include something in their bids for the 2019 SB that will be totally new and amazing; and I further guarantee that we will later learn that this new requirement was something previously only found in Indy's 2018 bid package.
  • Bad timing
    Why did Indy bid when Mpls was in with a new stadium? A city always gets rewarded for pumping a bunch of taxpayer dollars into the NFL coffers with a Super Bowl (and a chance to pump more money into the NFL.) It seems like a bad decision. Wouldn't Indy have had a much better chance going for the 2017 game that will be played in Houston?
  • The next big thing.....
    This was our third attempt to bid for a Super Bowl (2011, 2012, and 2018). The only winner was when we had a shiny new stadium. We've done the Super Bowl....let's move on to the next big thing (World Cup, Olympics, political convention) instead of allowing the NFL owners to use our ideas at other locations.
  • and also.....
    look for future Super Bowls to be awarded in Buffalo, Tennessee, and Green Bay when they build new stadiums.
  • Enough already
    Indy expected to get the super bowl with their new stadium and they did. Why would one not expect Minneapolis to be 'rewarded'?. Enough of begging the NFL for this. They are raking in the dollars while they expect others to cave into all their demands (and then some). The taxpayers have subsidized the NFL enough already (while they remain a so-called 'non-profit). There is more to a city than football.
  • something else
    I read a great piece by an Indy political writer suggesting that Indy seek to have the draft here annually. I like that idea. It's not the superbowl but its annual high profile event.
  • Who reads 900 pages?
    32 owners vote. How many read the bids? Congrats to the bid team for creative and productive ideas. The "sway" obviously leans to a new stadium. Can't begrudge the process that awarded a Super Bowl to Indy.
  • Conventions
    It would be great to host a political convention here...too bad that opportunity was just nixed by our mayor because ' we had enough going on'. Events that are like clockwork for us as a city, should not dissuade us for going after a large convention. Heck, I'm even a republican and I still think he shouldn't have said no to the DNC request to bid. If anything, getting all the politicos to recognize and admire our city, may get us further down the road in the long run, than the super bowl. And since when does the Mayor have to shoulder the burden of putting on a convention, don't we have an entire entity to do that?
  • SB & political conventions
    For those wondering why Indy went against Minneapolis, some believed it would take Minneapolis 2 tries to get the game like Indy (2007 & 08 bids for 2011 & 12 games). As for those proposing political conventions, no one seems to care that the mayor and Visit Indy passed on a request to bid on the RNC convention several months before they passed on the DNC convention. Why? Unlike the SB which is played during a low convention period (winter) and requires < 3 week space hold, the political conventions require high-demand dates (summer) and the RFPs (I've read them) require a 12-week space hold. So unless you want to cancel GenCon and about 15-20 other conventions already booked for summer 2016 both political conventions are TERRIBLE ROI.
  • Seriously?
    I think the NFL will survive with Indy skipping the bid process... Also, we invented Super Bowl Blvd?? Who cares?!? There is nothing about that attraction that cant be transplanted to a different city (same goes for ALL other Indy SB amenities). Build a transit system or something actually useful. This article reeks of im-taking-my-ball-and-going-home sour grapes. There is NO reason indy should be considered any more of a 'regular' SB destination than any other city... You guys need to get over the 'great job' you did and offer something more... We got our new-stadium-super-bowl, now its a different city's turn. Simple as that. This article makes us look stupid (wow! a social media command center!! sigh...)
  • Todd and ScottD are CORRECT!!!
    I totally agree with Todd and ScottD. We were merely asked to bid so they would get better bids from the two really bidding for SB 2018. The NFL knows Indy will have the BEST ideas as we did for SB 2012. I would not be surprised if the NFL suggests Minnesota or some future SB town to use something from our bid. The numbers from SB 2012 proved we were the best at hosting than they other two cities. We made the NFL a lot of money. Plus our ideas are now mandatory for all future Super bowls. That should tell you everything you need to know. I say lets not bid for a few years and see how great the Super bowls become. The NFL will come crying to us to bid again. Meanwhile, lets bid on some bid convention that will come back on a regular basis to Indy!
  • Irsay being arrested factored in....
    Why isn't anyone talking about the effects of Jim Irsay being arrested? I wouldn't think the other owners who represent the league would reward a super bowl to the owner of a team who was driving around popping so many pills he couldn't stand on his own nor find his house. I think this rest largely on Jim's shoulders...

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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.