UPDATE: Indy fended off surging bowl competitors

May 21, 2008
ATLANTA - A surprise boost in the quality of Phoenix's bid for the 2012 Super Bowl nearly up-ended what had been expected to be a reasonably easy catch by Indianapolis at the NFL team owners meeting yesterday.

Owners hesitate to discuss the vote, which eliminated Houston's bid early and finally handed the event to Indianapolis on the fourth ballot.

But an owner who asked not to be named said the appeal of Arizona in February was undeniable. He added that some owners also were taken by improvements in the Arizona bid to correct problems experienced during this year's Super Bowl in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale.

Those improvements addressed transportation and logistics and hosting of events and parties. Some media had criticized logistical problems and the spread-out nature of the event.

Sensing they were trailing Indianapolis, both Phoenix and Houston also tossed in last-minute enhancements to their bid packages.

Phoenix civic leaders were extremely optimistic following their presentation to the 32 owners yesterday.

Arizona's bid committee chairman, Mike Kennedy, said the latest bid had significant improvements over its bid for the 2008 event.

"Indianapolis is worthy competition," Kennedy said. "But we stressed that experience is everything. We have great, warm weather and offer a different kind of environment. We offer some elements that are difficult to match."

However, there was just enough support from a faction of owners that felt Indianapolis should be rewarded for its public-private partnership that helped pay for the $725 million Lucas Oil Stadium.

Oddly, one of Indianapolis' biggest supporters was Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Jones and Dallas outbid Indianapolis for the 2011 Super Bowl. After yesterday's vote, Jones said he supported the idea of Indianapolis getting the Super Bowl.

Jones' support stems from his belief that new, publicly financed stadiums help the health of the entire league, including his Cowboys.

For more about Jones' influence on the vote, go to IBJ's sports blog, The Score.
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