2012 Super Bowl, tainted or not, already paying off big

August 11, 2010
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The 2012 Super Bowl is already starting to pay off for Indianapolis.

There’s one reason why the Big Ten chose Indianapolis to host its inaugural football championship game in 2011. By winning the bid for the NFL’s big game and having a game plan in deep development to deal with one of the nation’s biggest sporting events, Indianapolis was an easy choice to host the Big Ten title game.

Sure, Indy has hosted numerous NCAA Final Fours, the Big Ten men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and a bevy of big conventions. And we’ve dealt with the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and an international contingent from Formula One.

But the Super Bowl has taken this city to another level. Even before it’s come here. Just by winning the bid, Indianapolis has proven it has the faith of the nation’s most powerful sports league. That says something, and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany took notice.

Hosting a big football game, with its massive tailgate parties and extensive corporate hospitality, is somewhat unique in the world of sports. And nowhere is the party bigger than the Super Bowl. If a city can handle that, it can probably handle just about any sporting event.

The cities that got a hard look for the Big Ten title game were Chicago (where the Big Ten headquarters is located), Detroit (which hosted the 2006 Super Bowl) and Indianapolis. Other cities, such as Columbus, Ohio; Minneapolis; and Green Bay lobbied for it, but in the end it wasn’t much of a contest.

There's one reason the Big Ten wants a title football game. It brings in big money for the conference and its member schools. With so much on the line, conference officials weren't about to trust this to just any city. It makes you wonder if the other cities competing against Indianapolis for these events feel a little like the IU football team heading into Happy Valley. Do they really have a chance against such a heavy favorite?

Now it seems, it’s Indianapolis’ game to lose. Delany only promised to have the title game in Lucas Oil Stadium for one year. But if Indianapolis does the kind of job it does for the Final Four, there’s little doubt it will be part of a short, permanent rotation.

Which means, Indianapolis will likely get at least a $10 million economic impact every three years. It could be a lot more. The Southeastern Conference title game boasts an economic impact two to three times what the Big Ten is projecting. I understand the Big Ten title game has some growing up to do to match the SEC title game.

The big payoff will come if the Big Ten is able to complete its expansion plan of growing to 14 or 16 teams. What that allows is a championship game of two teams who never met during the regular season.

Picture this, Nebraska and Ohio State meeting in the title game with a trip to the national championship game on the line. I think an economic impact of $20 million for a game like that would be conservative. Not to mention the marketing bounce the national television audience would bring.

You can argue all you want about the Super Bowl’s direct economic impact on the host city. Sports business experts peg it at anywhere from $200 million to $450 million. But it’s difficult to argue about the game’s long-lasting impact on this city.

Remember each event that comes here, not only pours money into hotels, restaurants, shops, our airport and on and on. It also raises a lot of public money through taxes on hotel rooms, taxi cab rides, meals out, rental cars and other sales taxes.

All this starts to make the $25 million investment to host the Super Bowl look pretty small.

With the looming labor fight between NFL owners and players threatening next season, I still wish Indianapolis was hosting the 2011 or 2013 Super Bowl. And I still think Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones pulled a fast one on Indianapolis.

But there’s no denying the payoff hosting the Super Bowl will have for Indianapolis.

In fact, the dividends are already starting to roll in. And there’s a promise of more—much more—on the horizon.

  • And don't forget that all or most of the $25 million was raised from private sources and done so prior to the bid being submitted to the NFL which was a first.

    I am sure the naysayers will argue that the money should have gone to schools, or roads or their favorite pet project, well since it was private, the donaters can give it to whomever they want.
  • BIG 10
    Hey Indyman.....that's a BIG 10-4
  • city resources in
    There are still plenty of city resources poured into this (Super Bowl) event (ie: police and fire protection, etc.). Even so, it's difficult to argue that the investment isn't worth it. If you're going to build your downtown through conventions and events, you have to continue to invest in that endeavor.
    • police and firemen
      Police and firemen are a city expense for ANY big event that comes to Indy. Not just Super Bowls!
    • no denying that
      Mike, I don't think there's any denying that. The point is, every event, the Super Bowl included, costs the city some money to operate it. I'm not saying it's not worth it, but to say it doesn't draw from city resources b/c of these privately raise funds is a misnomer.
    • Not a misnomer, the $25 mil is real and all private. sure the city has to provide extra services like Police, sanitation etc... Usually Homeland Security provide a lot of the money for the overtime etc... As far as the rest, i am betting the millions made off the taxes more than covers it. i understand your point, but the scale is dollars spent vs. thousands brought in from outside the State.
    • real cost
      I seem to recall that a large amount of sales tax revenue (hotel rooms etc) is forfeited to host the super bowl--is this still the case?
    • I believe that is the NFL gets their purchases tax free. So rooms for teams and officials, purchases made by the league etc.... The fans still pay the full amount.

      I am guessing the NFL portion is fairly small.

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