Super Bowl puts city on short list for auto dealers convention

Super Bowl revelers left Indianapolis a week ago, but the economic impact of the Feb. 5 game at Lucas Oil Stadium is still rolling in.

Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association CEO Leonard Hoops told Capital Improvement Board members Monday that he received a call from a major automobile manufacturer who was impressed by the city during Super Bowl XLVI festivities and wants to consider hosting its annual dealers conference in Indianapolis next year.

“We just got this call literally a couple of hours ago,” Hoops said at the board's monthly meeting. “It’s pretty exciting, and it’s certainly an indication of the kind of impact a Super Bowl can have on our convention and tourism business.”

ICVA officials now are looking at the feasibility of accommodating the group’s nationwide gathering of dealers.

“This is a group that wasn’t even our guest at the Super Bowl,” Hoops said. “They were there independent of us. They had their site selection down to two cities, but they liked what they saw so much here during the Super Bowl that they have put their selection on hold until they can give Indianapolis a chance to get in on the bid.”

Hoops declined to identify the auto manufacturer, but he said if the meeting comes here it would bring an eight-figure economic impact.

“It’s a very well-known manufacturer with many, many cars on the road,” he said.

General Motors’ GMC division is the official automobile sponsor of the NFL and had a number of top executives in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl this month. General Motors officials could not be reached for comment.

The ICVA hosted several convention planners at the Super Bowl and, although Hoops declined to divulge who they were because of potential competition from other cities, he said the effort appears to be bearing fruit.

Among the most-promising leads: A “major medical association based in Washington, D.C.,” has agreed to come back for an official site inspection in early summer, he said. Hoops is confident the city has a good chance at landing the group’s convention in 2019 or 2020.

The ICVA also hosted a major Washington, D.C.-based energy association that has met previously in Chicago.

“They went from not interested in Indianapolis before the Super Bowl to now saying they think we can host their group,” Hoops told CIB members. The quasi-governmental board owns and operates the Indiana Convention Center, Lucas Oil Stadium and other local sports venues.

Hoops is most confident about a “major engineering association” the ICVA hosted for Super Bowl festivities.

“Based on the feedback we’ve gotten, I’m very confident that this group will ultimately choose Indianapolis for its major annual convention,” he said.

If Indianapolis lands meetings of groups discussed Monday, the economic impact would total more than $100 million, Hoops said, adding that ICVA officials should have answers in the next 90 days.

“The people who underestimate the economic impact of the Super Bowl often don’t look at the convention and tourism business we land as a result,” Hoops said. “Evaluating the economic impact of the Super Bowl is like evaluating the [NFL] draft. You have to look a year, two years, three years down the road.”

The big game had an immediate impact, too. Smith Travel Research this week reported that, in the weekend before the Super Bowl, central Indiana hotels saw a 907-percent revenue increase over the same period a year ago, the biggest gain of any Super Bowl host city in the last five years. Almost $18 million was generated from area hotel rooms on Friday and Saturday nights alone, Smith Travel Research said.

Indianapolis saw record highs for occupancy as well, selling 96 percent of the market’s total room supply, resulting in a 131-percent occupancy increase the weekend before the Super Bowl compared with the same period a year earlier.

Average daily hotel room rates in the four-day run-up to the Super Bowl were $294.55, a 338 percent increase over the same period last year, according to Smith Travel Research.

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