Editorial: City shines as championship host

Keywords Editorials / Opinion

Congratulations to the city, Indiana Sports Corp., Indianapolis Host Committee, Visit Indy and more than 1,000 volunteers from across the region who helped make the College Football Playoff National Championship a success.

And thanks to the College Football Playoff organization for trusting Indianapolis enough to make it the first cold-winter city to host the game.

That was a risk—and it was cold. Mother Nature didn’t give Indianapolis a three-day reprieve from normal January weather for the 70,000-some, mostly Southern fans of the University of Georgia and University of Alabama.

Temps were mostly in the 20s and 30s—occasionally reaching into the low 40s or down into the high teens. That probably affected the concerts on Monument Circle the most—although dedicated groups of enthusiastic music and football fans gathered each day (even on Saturday, when the area was hit by freezing rain) to take in the likes of popular artists Doja Cat and Twenty One Pilots.

Still, on Georgia Street—where warming stations and firepits provided a reprieve—fans were jubilant and complimentary. And inside the Indiana Convention Center, where the College Football Playoff staged a massive fan festival, weather was not a concern. Kids ran obstacle courses, fans posed with the Heisman Trophy, and wanna-be athletes tried to kick field goals.

Downtown hotels—and many elsewhere in the region—were filled. Restaurants near Georgia Street and the convention center were hopping.

Of course, it wasn’t a perfect weekend. The weather canceled some of the fun—including drone light shows planned near Lucas Oil Stadium and one performance of aerial dance troupe Bandaloop. Closed streets and security concerns made it a little tough for downtown workers to get around. And there’s got to be a better-looking way to block streets than parking big dump trucks across them.

But overall, the championship—despite COVID, which at one point looked like it might threaten the game itself—appeared to be a great success.

So, here’s our request to the College Football Playoff folks: Bring the game back here.

In fact, put Indianapolis in a regular rotation as host. That’s what Mark Howell, chairman of the Indianapolis Host Committee, has said he’ll push the College Football Playoff organization to do. And selfishly, on behalf of Indianapolis, we think it’s a great idea.

Letting Indianapolis host the game regularly would also be good for the championship itself. The city will only get better at hosting the event, as it has shown with the creative ways it continues to innovate the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four and other championships. Organizers will find new and better ways to use the infrastructure the city has to offer specifically for the football championship. And Indianapolis residents will begin to truly embrace the event, so it becomes as much for people here as for visitors.

These big events give Indianapolis exposure the city just can’t buy. The shots of downtown and the stadium that aired on ESPN as the broadcast went in and out of commercials were breathtaking. And at a time when the city must do what it can to be a place people want to live and work, that spotlight can only help.•

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