It is with a deep and lingering tip of the hat that we congratulate the Super Bowl Host Committee and Indiana Sports Corp. for an especially successful Super Bowl last weekend.
Veteran sports and travel writers predicted first-time visitors to Indianapolis would be impressed with the Hoosier hospitality, organizational chops and compact downtown they had come to appreciate and, judging by anecdotal evidence and media coverage, most visitors indeed enjoyed their stays.
Now, though, the Sports Corp. is winded. As IBJ’s Anthony Schoettle reports in Focus elsewhere in this issue, the organization that built the sports strategy over the past 30 years and was instrumental in landing the big game devoted immense energy to planning and staging not only the game, but also the array of entertainment and logistical decisions.
The result is that the corporation ran low on resources to chase outsized sporting events beyond NCAA Final Fours—events other cities would kill to host, but which are becoming almost routine here.
The close of a landmark event like the Super Bowl coupled with the pressing need to update the corporation’s long-range plan beyond 2012 offers the organization a prime opportunity to rethink the sports strategy.
Some experts both inside and outside the corporation think it should continue focusing primarily on attracting events. Others argue some resources should be diverted to creating proprietary events. No doubt more ideas will be floated.
These conflicting ideas are evidence of life and energy and promise for the future, that success isn’t being taken for granted. Indianapolis has built a tradition of putting aside peripheral differences to zero in on things that matter, and the corporation can be expected to once again sift the best ideas.
Getting the future right is critical. Sports is as attractive a strategy as it was decades ago when former Mayor Bill Hudnut and others dreamed up the idea to bump the city out of its Naptown doldrums—so attractive that other cities continue trying their hand at it, Chicago being the latest. So the planners should think expansively and creatively.
Paradoxically, the organization is catching its breath for the same reason it has been so successful. Being middle-sized (one out-of-town writer reminded that the market ranks a mere 34th), Indianapolis must concentrate its limited resources on doing a few things well.
The forced discipline will play to the corporation’s advantage as it looks to the future.
But an even more fundamental motivator—the city’s love affair with sports—should result in the next great plan.
As rapper Eminem said about Detroit car-making in a Super Bowl ad last year, this is what we do.•
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