Super Bowl Host Committee lays out winter weather plans

The 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee on Friday laid out plans to deal with any weather issues  the city might face while hosting the National Football League’s big game next February.

Mark Miles, chairman of the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee Board, introduced Jim Schellinger, chairman and CEO of CSO Architects, as the chairman of the committee’s Weather Preparedness and Response Team.

Schellinger, who lost the Democratic nomination for governor to Jill Long Thompson in the 2008 primary election, said he was both “intimidated and excited” when approached about the job.

“It’s going to take a concerted effort to get this done,” Schellinger said. “If we put together the kind of plan we want to, we think this can be a model for future events here in Indianapolis and future Super Bowls. It’s going to take a lot of coordination [between agencies] to get it done.”

Weather was already a concern for a northern city like Indianapolis, but it became more of an issue during this year’s Super Bowl when ice and snow storms hampered travel around the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and reduced visitor spending by more than $20 million, according to Dallas-area merchants.

A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP estimated that Dallas would ring up the biggest direct visitor spending in the Super Bowl’s 45-year history, about $200 million. But Dallas-area merchants said sales were off more than 10 percent from those projections. Some estimated sales were as much as 20 percent below projections.

Indianapolis experienced severe winter weather during the week leading up to this year's Super Bowl as a major ice storm socked the Midwest.

Local Super Bowl host committee members promised they’d be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at the city next year during the week of festivities and events prior to the big game.

“It’s a different environment in North Texas,” said 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee member Dianna Boyce about the unusual weather that hampered the Dallas event. “We are used to continuous winter weather during this time of year in Indianapolis. We have the people and equipment in place to handle this type of situation.”

Miles said the potential for winter weather shouldn’t scare off visitors for next year’s Super Bowl or cause NFL officials to scratch Indianapolis off its list of future Super Bowl hosts.

“We want to embrace the winter weather here,” Miles said. “If the Winter Olympics can get thousands of people together every four years, why can’t Indianapolis.”

That certainly wasn’t the case in Dallas, where stores were forced to open late and close early on the Tuesday and Wednesday before the Super Bowl due to inclement winter weather. Ice an inch thick covered sidewalks in downtown Dallas and other retail areas as late as the day before Super Bowl Sunday.

The Weather Preparedness and Response Team is expected to generate a comprehensive plan of action for any weather occurrence that could affect events leading up to and including Super Bowl XLVI, Miles said.

Also named to the team were Earl Goode, chief of staff for Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels; and Chris Cotterill, chief of staff for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. That duo on Friday joined representatives from a wide cross-section of organizations, including the airport, city and state agencies, utilities, public-safety groups, hotels, and venues.

Goode said they’re setting the bar high in Indianapolis regardless of the weather.

“Our goal is to have this be the very best event we’ve ever coordinated, and the best Super Bowl ever coordinated,” Goode said.

The committee’s goals include:

—Creating comprehensive guidelines to prepare and respond to any weather conditions;

—Addressing all natural elements, including rain, sleet, ice, snow, hail, wind, fog and any combination of the weather;

—Addressing  traffic coordination and safety, including pedestrian, vehicular, air travel, bus, rail and service traffic as well as pedestrian safety in the immediate vicinity of Lucas Oil Stadium;

—Monitoring utility assets for repair or backup;

—Ensuring collaborative planning and preparations for venues and facilities;

—Planning for timely, accurate and effective communication;

—Creating a plan that becomes a model for future major events.

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