2012 may not be Indy’s only Super Bowl

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There’s an increasing threat that labor strife between National Football League owners and players could quash the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

The owners are playing hardball, saying the current collective bargaining agreement with players is unworkable. The players’ union boss is telling players to start bankrolling 25 percent of their paycheck now to survive a 2011-12 lockout.

It’s serious enough that local leaders here have broken out into the beginnings of a sweat mustache.

If Allison Melangton, CEO of Indianapolis’ Super Bowl host committee is worried, she’s not letting on. (See video below.)

She has bigger fish to fry.

Melangton is concerning herself with how to put on the best Super Bowl the Midwest has ever seen. She’s confident the Super Bowl and week-long lead up will be so good, NFL owners will consider bringing the big game—and its $200 million in direct visitor spending—back to the Circle City.

Melangton told IBJ this morning that much of the financing has been secured to host the game and 6,000 volunteers have signed up.

She is optimistic that more than 2,000 will be enlisted in short order. That will give Melangton the 8,000 the NFL is mandating, plus a waiting list. She is organizing them into 66 committees.

That hasn’t completely allayed the NFL’s fears.

During recent Super Bowls, foul weather has led to mass volunteer no shows. Torrential rains in Miami in 2007 led to traffic snarls, when volunteer traffic guards and directors either didn’t show up or left during the game.

Melangton told NFL officials recently there are “no worries” here.

“We have a long history of volunteerism and supporting these events even when it’s 20 degrees below zero,” Melangton said. “I told [NFL officials] there’s going to be no problem with our volunteers whatsoever.”

Melangton actually expects a 98 percent volunteer turnout rate (with the 2 percent being related mostly to things like family emergencies), but an ample pool of reserves to fill the gaps.

Early next year, Melangton plans to roll out the first volunteers-led local Super Bowl initiatives, including some that will tie in old-timers who have been volunteering at sporting events dating back to the 1980 Final Four and 1982 National Sports Festival.

Melangton thinks the organization and execution of Indianapolis’ first Super Bowl will be so good, the NFL will consider bringing it back in 10 to 15 years. That’s a notion, that until now, was thought to be preposterous.

“Our goal is to use this event,” Melangton said “to take this city to a new level.”

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