In Miami, the daunting requirements for hosting the game began to make more sense. The city's strengths came into focus.
Extensive tours of the stadium, media center, team hotels and practice facilities, along with hours of meetings with NFL brass and officials with other host cities, left the contingent feeling Indianapolis is ready for a Super Bowl. The group hopes to raise $25 million in private funds to host the game in 2011.
"It was a terrific trip in terms of reconnaissance and information," said Fred Glass, who is leading the effort and also serves as president of the city's Capital Improvement Board. "I'm more confident than ever we'll be able to put together a first-rate bid and a spectacular Super Bowl here in Indianapolis."
Miami was hosting its ninth Super Bowl and did plenty right. But on some points, Glass and others said, Indianapolis could do better. Some comparative advantages include less traffic, venues and hotels in closer proximity, and a stadium where precipitation won't be a problem.
Most Super Bowls are held in warmweather cities, but this year's game proved even South Florida weather can turn nasty. Rain made the matchup miserable for many fans, who left with waterlogged shoes and rain-damaged cell phones. And it wreaked havoc on the field, contributing to several turnovers.
"I never thought I'd say this, but I think [our] weather might be an advantage," said Mayor Bart Peterson, who also made the trip. "It will be 72 and dry inside Lucas Oil Stadium."
Indianapolis will have to prepare for the possibility of snow and ice, but the covered connections between hotels, the Indiana Convention Center, Circle Centre mall and Lucas Oil Stadium should help mitigate concerns about the city's frigid Februarys, Peterson said.
The mayor was most struck during his visit by the sheer volume of events planned to coincide with the Super Bowl. Just about every gathering place in Indianapolis would have to be called into
service, he said.
The city's bid, which will be about the size of a phone book, is due to the league April 2. Officials will get 15 minutes to sell the bid and the city to NFL team owners in May; a decision is expected that month. Other cities considering bids for the 2011 game are Dallas, New Orleans and Glendale, Ariz.
"I think we can hold our own," Peterson said. "We're hungry, and we've never had it before. That's a real advantage for us."
But there also are major factors working against Indianapolis, including its weather and its smaller size, said Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp Ltd., a Chicago-based sports business consulting firm.
There was a buzz surrounding the Super Bowl this year in Miami, Ganis said. Part of the reason was the last two years the game was played in Detroit, a cold city in February, and Jacksonville, Fla., a smaller city.
In Indianapolis, a new stadium, a compact downtown and political support should be strong selling points. And the timing could be good, Ganis said, since a handful of natural Super Bowl cities-including New Orleans, San Diego and Los Angeles-either don't have a longterm contract with their team or don't have a team at all.
"The bid is a long shot, but it's a long shot that is worth the effort," he said.
Several major projects-including a new airport terminal, Lucas Oil stadium,
an expanded convention center and a
1,000-room JW Marriott convention hotel-will all be ready for the 2011 Super Bowl, said Bob Bedell, president of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association.
The city will have to secure 19,000 hotel rooms, including 9,000 to 10,000 in full-service hotels for the NFL's use. That will require space in dozens of hotels. The metro area now has about 28,000 rooms, Bedell said. By 2011, several new hotels should push that number to at least 32,000.
While in Miami, Bedell toured team hotels and the NFL headquarters hotel, the 615-room Key Biscayne Marriott. He said the planned JW Marriott near White River State Park likely would serve as the NFL headquarters hotel in Indianapolis. Hotels outside the city center would serve as team hotels, since the league believes players are more secure away from the downtown hubbub.
The convention center likely would host the media center and NFL Experience, a theme park featuring autograph sessions, games and displays. Bedell said the arrangement would be an improvement over South Florida, where the media facility was 15 miles from the stadium, and traffic was a nightmare.
"Miami's a great destination and a great city for a Super Bowl," he said. "The differences are, everything is so spread out, and the traffic is difficult."
Bedell called the NFL's bid requirements "overwhelming." But during his two-day visit to Miami, he was glad to see the league is flexible in allowing portable facilities and tents to supplement existing space where needed.
"An advantage we will have is a focused vibrancy downtown in the Mile Square," Glass said. "The NFL will own Indianapolis, and all of the activity will revolve around the Super Bowl."
Another requirement of the bid will be to adjust some local ordinances, most notably waiving the collection of certain taxes from NFL entities Glass said. The city also would seek a waiver on a law that requires bars to close at midnight on Sunday.