The woman chosen as president and CEO of the city's Super Bowl host committee isn't exactly a household name, but those who hired her think she'll make Indianapolis the best host city ever.
Allison Melangton, 46, is the first paid member of the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, and is expected to throw planning and organization into overdrive over the next 30 days.
Melangton will be charged with organizing every aspect of the event to be held Feb. 5, 2012, including putting together a staff of 13 to 16 full-time paid employees and recruiting and organizing the 6,000 to 10,000 volunteers needed to pull off the event.
Melangton, a native of Maine, came to Indianapolis in 1983 to work for USA Gymnastics before joining the Indiana Sports Corp. staff in 1994. She eventually became a senior vice president for the Sports Corp. in charge of such events as the men's and women's Big Ten basketball championships; NCAA Final Fours; and Olympic swimming, diving and wrestling trials.
"I am a Hoosier as a result of the sports initiative this city began to pursue 25 years ago," Melangton said.
Despite her considerable experience organizing events here, Melangton is largely unknown, even among community leaders in Indianapolis. That is about to change.
"Nobody knows her because she tucks herself right below the surface and makes everyone else look good," said Indiana Sports Corp. President Susan Williams. "With this, she's going to be right out front, and that will be a big step for her. I talked to her about how different this role is going to be for her. And I'm convinced she's absolutely ready. It's time Indianapolis knows who she is."
At USA Gymnastics, Melangton, herself a collegiate gymnast at Colorado State University, became director of national and international events. She continues to consult on gymnastics events for television networks, and worked for NBC at every Olympics from 1984-2008. She won three Emmy Awards for her production work during that stint.
Melangton will leave her post at ISC and work full time for the next three-plus years for the local Super Bowl host committee. There will be a job waiting for her if she wants it after the 2012 Super Bowl, Williams said.
"Will we take her back? You bet. We're not about to let her get away," Williams said.
Mark Miles, who headed the Super Bowl 2012 bid for Mayor Greg Ballard, admitted he had never met Melangton before last year when they worked together on the 2012 bid. Melangton also worked on the 2011 bid for the city.
Miles--along with other local Super Bowl committee members--quickly became convinced Melangton was the person to lead the effort. The 10 committee members unanimously chose her at a closed-door meeting last month.
"She understands every aspect of organizing an event like this," said Miles, who headed the ATP Tour, the international organizing body for men's professional tennis, before becoming president and CEO of Central Indiana Corporate Partnership last year.
Miles, meanwhile, transitions from bid committee president to host committee chairman. Other members of the bid committee who have joined the host committee are University of Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, Langham Logistics President Cathy Langham, Eli Lilly and Co. Inc. CEO John Lechleiter, Ernst & Young Managing Partner Derrick Burks, NCAA President Myles Brand, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chairman Tony George, Emmis Communications Corp. Chairman Jeff Smulyan, Simon Property Group Inc. CEO David Simon and Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White. Swarbrick and Langham were named vice chairmen.
New board members named to the host committee Sept. 30 were Alfredo Lopez-Yunez, a local physician and community activist; Paul Okeson, the mayor's chief of staff; Pete Ward, Colts senior executive vice president; and ISC's Williams.
Gov. Mitch Daniels, Ballard and Colts owner Jim Irsay were named honorary co-chairmen of the host committee.
National Football League officials were in town in late September to discuss the city's transition to host mode. NFL officials were especially keen to hear about the city's so-called legacy initiative, a plan to boost the Tech High School campus and near-east side by building a Super Bowl practice facility at Tech. League officials also discussed a program to assure women and minority-owned businesses are considered for Super Bowl contracts.
Melangton, who started working full time on the Super Bowl effort Oct. 1, said her focus will turn initially to the legacy project, working on the scope and plan for the downtown Super Bowl village, organizing the approximately 60 committees and 200-plus subcommittees she anticipates will be needed to pull off the operation, and developing a program for hiring women and minority-owned business.
In the next few months, Melangton also will be developing a financial services/accounting department for the organization as well as a communications division, and confirming the availability of hotels and other venues and infrastructure needed for the Super Bowl week.
Though the Super Bowl won't come to town for another three years and four months, Melangton said there is little time to waste.
"There's no shortage of work to do," she said. "The NFL has extremely detailed specifications for what they want done. We know every event has its own challenges that can be turned into elements of opportunity and this is no different. The challenge ahead doesn't scare me. This is an opportunity of a lifetime, for me and this city."