Indianapolis named finalist for 2018 Super Bowl

Indianapolis has cleared the first hurdle in its quest to host the 2018 Super Bowl.

On Tuesday afternoon at their meeting in Washington, D.C., NFL team owners voted Indianapolis one of three teams that will be invited to make a presentation at the May owners’ meeting. New Orleans and Minneapolis are the other two finalists.

Indianapolis, Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans and Tampa, Fla., notified NFL officials in August they were interested in bidding for the 2018 Super Bowl.

Sources close to the NFL told IBJ that Miami was the first city axed from the contenders on Tuesday. Then Dallas was eliminated, followed by Tampa.

The owners will determine which city will host the 2018 Super Bowl at their May 19-21 meetings in Atlanta. Minneapolis is expected to have a new stadium built in time for the 2018 Super Bowl, and New Orleans will be celebrating its 300th birthday that year.

“It is very gratifying the NFL asked Indy to submit a bid to host Super Bowl LII," said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard in a prepared statement. "Indy’s reputation for hosting great events is unmatched. I have no doubt our team will put forth an exciting plan to host another Super Bowl that will make the NFL, its owners, and football fans around the world very proud.”

Colts owner Jim Irsay told NFL Media in an interview Monday that he thought Indianapolis had hosted one of the best Super Bowls in 2012, and that the city is in a strong position to win back the big game.

“Congrats to the great city of Indy for making it as a Super Bowl finalist!" Irsay tweeted after the news on Tuesday.

Officials likely are emboldened by the financial results of Indianapolis’ first time hosting of the NFL championship game, which produced a direct economic impact of $176 million, according to a study by Rockport Analytics. When considering “supply chain” spending by businesses to stock up for the game, in addition to spending of extra wages on overtime, the $176 million impact figure rises to $277.9 million, according to the study.

Other findings from the study showed that 116,000 visitors outside Indianapolis came to the city for the game or related events, and the NFL Experience drew 265,000 visitors.

That drove area hotel occupancy rates to about 93 percent for the four days leading up to the game, and to an eye-popping 99 percent for downtown hotels. The strong capacity lifted daily room rates to $290.

The local organizing committee has its work cut out for it for 2018.

"This is just the first hurdle cleared thanks to the hard work of Indy's Super Bowl Committee and the great accomplishments by our city in 2012,” said Indianapolis Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward, who is part of the local bid committee. “Plenty of more work ahead, but this is a reason to feel good and is a credit to the community. "

Indianapolis Super Bowl Bid Committee chief Allison Melangton has promised to come up with a new and creative way of delivering the city’s bid. In 2008, Indianapolis grabbed headlines by using school-aged children to deliver the written bid for the 2012 game and sending owners servings of St. Elmo shrimp cocktail to grease the skids for the local ask.

"Our competition is stiff, but we look forward to showcasing the strengths of our community and earning the right to host Super Bowl LII,” Melangton said after Tuesday's news.

The local bid committee is somewhat limited on what it can do until it gets the bid specifications, and Indianapolis officials aren’t sure when that will happen, said David Lewis, the committee’s vice chairman.

But there are four key things the local bid committee will start working on immediately, Lewis said, and he added, with the written portion of the bid due in April, time is of the essence.

“We will look back at 2012 and see what we did well and what we can do differently, start working on our overarching [bid] strategy, organize the bid team and start raising the money we will need to host this event,” Lewis said. “It will take every minute we have to prepare this bid.”

Already, Indiana Sports Corp. Vice President Susan Baughman has been named to lead the day-to-day operations of Indianapolis’ bid effort.

One of the first tasks for the local Super Bowl bid committee will be raising the $30 million needed to host the big game, said Lewis, vice president-global taxes and assistant treasurer for Eli Lilly & Co. Inc.

In 2007, when the city bid for the 2011 Super Bowl, Indianapolis was the first bidder to raise all the money–$25 million—it needed to host the Super Bowl before making its bid presentation. In 2008, the city repeated that feat in its successful bid to host the 2012 Super Bowl.

Lewis is confident Indianapolis bid committee can do that again.

“We had 133 donors last time, and 99 percent, basically all of our donors [for the 2012 Super Bowl] said they’d be in again at or above the level they were at if we bid again,” Lewis said. “All our indicators are that we will be able to raise all the money we need to host the 2018 Super Bowl before we make our bid presentation. We feel really good about that because we think that kind of corporate and civic commitment is one of the things that really set us apart last time.”

Irsay, who has become one of the most influential owners in the game, said in August that he would call in as many favors as needed to land the game.

“I’ve got some information on them and some various things I can use when the time comes." he said. "I always keep those in my back pocket. You’ll see me blitzing on every down when that comes. It’s always fun to go out there and really twist some arms.”

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