Organizing committee to seek $16M in corporate support for college championship

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Indianapolis’ local organizing committee will need to raise $16 million from corporate and private sources to host the 2022 national championship football game, Visit Indy Vice President Chris Gahl told IBJ.

Fundraising will start next week and will be done in phases. Local officials said the entire $16 million won’t need to be collected until kickoff of the game, which will be held Jan. 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Mark Howell, chairman of College Football Playoff Host Committee, said local leaders are “very comfortable we will be able to raise the money needed to be successful.”

“We can demonstrate a very high” return on investment for the city, said Howell, chief operating officer at Angie’s List. “This is a very valuable event. The business community will clearly recognize that. In our history, when these kinds of events have been presented, the support we have gotten has been overwhelming.”

City leaders estimate the college championship could bring 100,000 people to Indianapolis and have an economic impact of $150 million, nearly double the amount generated by an NCAA Final Four men’s basketball championship.

 “The game will have a very broad reach and economic impact,” Gahl said. “The exposure from this [football] game is phenomenal. The cost is significantly less than the Super Bowl. That’s why this is so appealing.”

Community leaders pledged $25 million in 2008 to win a bid for the 2012 Super Bowl and actually raised $30 million in cash and in-kind services, said Allison Melangton, who was president of the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee. That money was used to help pay for the Super Bowl village, volunteer training and uniforms, near-east side redevelopment projects and other events.

Melangton said the $16 million that Howell and his team are seeking for the college championship game “seems very reasonable.”

“And I believe the city will absolutely realize the benefit of that—the businesses involved and the city itself,” Melangton said. “Events like this continue to put Indianapolis on the national and global map, which I think drives businesses to relocate here and it drives talent here.”

Maureen Krauss, the chief economic development officer at Indy Chamber, said the impact can be measured directly and indirectly.

“We all understand the benefit our entire region gets for this—not just on the numbers of hotel rooms and revenue and the restaurants and the money people spend at an event,” she said. “We also understand the marketing value of showcasing our city and our region to a national and in many cases an international audience.”

The College Football Playoff management committee made its location decisions on Wednesday, announcing that its championship game would be in Miami in 2021, Indianapolis in 2022, Los Angeles in 2023 and Houston in 2024.

Indianapolis did not bid for the game in a traditional sense. College Football Playoff officials contacted the Indiana Sports Corp. in September and asked it to choose a year in which it could host the game and put together the details in six weeks.

After checking the calendar, Indianapolis officials said they could host in 2022. 

“It’s about finding the right year,” Gahl said. “And we did that.”

Local officials had previously looked into the possibility of bidding. A local delegation traveled to the 2015 and 2016 college national championship football game to get an idea what it would take to host the event.

For Indianapolis, the game will come at a good time. January is typically a slow month for the Indiana Convention Center, Visit Indy officials said. The college football national championship game will occupy Lucas Oil Stadium for more than a week for the game as well as the setup and tear-down.

One possible conflict would be if the Colts were to have a home playoff game on that day. Ryan Vaughn, president of Indiana Sports Corp., said it's possible both games would have to be played the same day.

The event will also occupy at least part of the Indiana Convention Center for 11 or 12 days. That will include four days each of set up and tear down and a three-to-four-day fan experience that will include autograph sessions, clinics for kids and punt, pass and kick competition.

Howell said the events will be kept primarily downtown, which creates the sense that “these events in Indianapolis take over the city.” He said the $16 million raised from corporations and other donors will be used for hotel rooms, food and beverages, transportation, marketing and other expenses.

The game and its ancillary events also will require more than 1,000 volunteers.

“We’re really trying to attract a large group of volunteer leadership and strike a careful balance between all the successful things we have done in the past and know they work but apply some innovation and creativity to come up with some new ideas,” Howell said.

Melangton said those volunteer opportunities are as valuable as the financial impact of the event—both for those who will serve on committees and in leadership roles but also for what she called the shifted volunteers.

“That’s part of our secret sauce here,” she said.

The result, she said, are opportunities for young professionals to give back to their community, which helps companies attract and retain talent.

“For Indianapolis to keep thriving and keep competing in the business sectors and bringing talented people to town and keeping talented people here, we have to have a thriving community,” Melangton said. “And one of the greatest things about this city is that we have a history of civic volunteerism and people serving in leadership roles. That’s not the case in every city.”

Howell will be overseeing an Indiana Sports Corp. event for the first time, although he said he’s been involved in other fundraising and event management.

“I think one of the attributes that I think I brought to this was an ability to begin expanding the circle of people who are participating in these major sporting events,” Howell said. “There is a desire to build the bench of folks who are engaged.”

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