Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I’m beginning to think Indianapolis got hoodwinked into bidding for and agreeing
to host the 2012 Super Bowl.
City officials waded into the deep end and bit hook, line and sinker. We won the Super Bowl that nobody else really wanted. Even the competition now looks like a sham. Phoenix had just hosted the Super Bowl in 2008, and Houston never was a major threat for 2012.
New Orleans wisely stepped aside, saying the post-Katrina Crescent City wouldn’t be ready until 2013. This Super Bowl savvy city knew better than to vote on a Super Bowl that had a lockout hanging over head.
The most galling part is that the man who pushed Indianapolis’ 2012 bid over the top—Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones—was the same guy who swiped the 2011 Super Bowl out from under the Circle City.
Lucas Oil Stadium was complete before Jerry’s palace, but Indy was shoved aside for the Lone Star football Mecca and its boisterous owner. This after the NFL commissioner came to town to bribe Indy to build a new stadium with the promise of a Super Bowl. Well, the league came through for us.
At the 2008 NFL owners meeting where the 2012 Super Bowl bid was voted on, it looked like Jones threw Indy a really nice bone. Now we can see it has rancid meat attached.
The city has put countless hours and at least $25 million into planning for this event. It is supposed to be a launch pad to take this convention and event hungry city to another stratosphere. The game is supposed to be a showcase to prove Indianapolis actually deserves another Super Bowl. If city leaders are able to manage this sticky situation nicely, Indy certainly deserves another Super Bowl.
Now all anyone can talk about is the financial fight between players and owners, the looming lockout and the threat of postponing or, gulp!, cancelling the big game. Like it or not, all this lockout talk takes the focus away from our city. Hoteliers and the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association are being held hostage to boot.
Already the city and hoteliers have been forced to reserve two weekends for the Super Bowl. Those weekends are valuable currency for any convention city. If it gets pushed back any further, Indianapolis has a big problem; the massive Dealer’s Expo, which is set to be here.
Post 9/11, the NFL had to do some fancy footwork to re-work the Super Bowl schedule. But that was an event outside the league’s control. This impending disaster is of the league’s own making.
Maybe Indianapolis city leaders that bid for the 2012 game couldn’t have known any better. But you can bet savvy NFL owners like Jones knew even in 2008 this was headed for an ugly ending. After all, it was the owners who opted out of the current collective bargaining agreement. Colts owner Jim Irsay should have known too.
I remember well, when a hostile Gene Upshaw, who was then head of the players’ union, called the press room at the 2008 owners meeting in Atlanta to voice—loudly, I might add—his displeasure with the owners. I knew then, the 2012 Super Bowl was going to have a cloud hanging over it for a very long time.
Upshaw’s death and replacement by DeMaurice Smith has done nothing to quell the storm between players and owners.
We’ve heard the refrain, “There’s plenty of time to get this settled.” There’s not plenty of time. These things rarely get settled until it hits the fan.
And I don’t want to hear the argument that there’s just too much money on the table for a lockout. All that money is precisely why there will be a lockout.
Newsflash: Most people are greedy on some level. And good times bring out that greed in triplicate.
I give the National Basketball Association a better chance of avoiding a work stoppage than the NFL. The NBA has real problems. It truly can’t afford a work stoppage.
The NFL, oddly, can better endure a work stoppage. Their fervent fans are more likely to come back to buy pricey tickets and vote for taxpayer-backed playing venues after the money mongering is over.
As for Indianapolis, at this point there's not much else to do besides watch and wait helplessly. And hope common sense prevails over greed.