Downtown was practically a ghost town when John Gipson began as a doorman at the Canterbury Hotel 27 years ago. The Mile Square had just a handful of hotels with fewer than 1,000 total rooms, no shopping mall and zero nightlife.
For years after the Canterbury opened in 1984 in a hotel building that had been vacant 15 years, anyone who was anyone visiting Indianapolis would stay there. Not that there were other options.
And as much as Indianapolis has changed—there are now more than 7,000 hotel rooms downtown including newer luxury rooms at the Conrad Indianapolis and JW Marriott—plenty of celebrities still stay at the 12-story hotel built in 1928 and once known as the Lockerbie.
Among its guests for the Super Bowl week: Alec Baldwin, Steven Tyler and Carrie Underwood.
When he was a younger man, Gipson said he "never dreamed" Indianapolis would host a Super Bowl.
Now 73 and a front-row witness to a city's transformation, Gipson was feeling a bit more confident on Wednesday as he watched the action from his post at the entrance to the 99-room hotel on Illinois Street.
"I predict we'll get many more Super Bowls here," he said.