NFL: City ahead of curve on Super Bowl project-WEB ONLY

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Preparations for the 2012 Super Bowl are apparently immune from the economic problems dogging Indianapolis these days.

NFL vice president Frank Supovitz told city and business leaders yesterday that the city has exceeded other host sites in terms of financing and prep work.

“When Indianapolis came in to present itself for the Super Bowl, all those [financial] commitments were already in place,” Supovitz said. “In fact, Indianapolis is one of the cities we’re less concerned about.”

The Colts, Pacers, Indy Racing League and Indianapolis Motor Speedway have all been cutting costs. State lawmakers are also mulling over two proposals to close the Capital Improvement Board’s $47 million deficit. The board runs Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Colts and the Super Bowl, and Conseco Fieldhouse, where the NBA’s Pacers play.

Supovitz acknowledged the NFL has been monitoring the legislative debate but would not get involved.

“The Super Bowl is something that makes people realize you have an end game here, and hopefully, they’ll have it [the CIB plan] resolved in time,” he said.

Indianapolis won the right to host its first Super Bowl last year and organizers raised $25 million in private donations before NFL owners ever voted. That’s something other cities have not done.

Supovitz said the league has no concerns about money running out, even in this economic climate. The game is expected to generate a one-time economic boost of more than $300 million for the city, including more than $30 million in state and local tax revenue, according to Ball State University’s Bureau of Business Research.

Organizers acknowledge it’s impossible to put a price on the value of the worldwide exposure the game will give the city.

“This is a big civic thing,” said Colts owner Jim Irsay, who donated more than $1 million. “This is something that has a huge economic impact in so many different ways, and it’s a real shot in the arm during these economic times.”

A flurry of activity is taking place downtown before the big event.

Construction has begun on an expansion to the city’s convention center and a major new hotel, the J.W. Marriott, is going up across the street from Victory Field, home of the minor-league Indianapolis Indians. Supovitz said he believes all the work will be finished in time for the big game.

Indianapolis has a long history of hosting major sporting events.

Next year’s men’s basketball Final Four and the 2011 women’s Final Four will be held here. The city has also hosted the AFC Championship game, the NBA Finals, Olympics trials and golf’s PGA Championship and Solheim Cup. It is the only city to have hosted races on the IndyCar, NASCAR and Formula One circuits in the same season. And, in July, the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament will be played in nearby Carmel.

All that practice has given Indianapolis a leg up on other host cities, although planning a Super Bowl will be different.

“We have to be very prepared because we’ve never hosted one before,” Irsay said. “But this is something we should take a lot of pride in, and I think we’re in good shape.”

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