Indy needs bigger pile of corporate cash to win 2018 Super Bowl

Indianapolis Super Bowl Bid Committee officials say they’ll need to raise $5 million more in advance corporate and private donations for the 2018 game than they did for the 2012 Super Bowl.

In 2008, Indianapolis was the first prospective Super Bowl host city to secure firm commitments for all the money it would need before it actually won the bid.

Indianapolis is still the only city to manage that trick, and local bid committee boss Allison Melangton is confident that feat can be repeated. But this time they’ll need to snare hard commitments for $30 million, Melangton revealed at a press gathering at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday morning.

In 2008, the city had commitments for $25 million in hand when local leaders made their pitch to the NFL's 32 owners. Another $3 million in corporate and private donations were scored as the game neared.

Melangton credited former Capital Improvement Board President Fred Glass for coming up with the idea to raise the money ahead of time. Glass is now the Indiana University athletic director.

“It ended up being a really important factor for us,” said Melangton, Indiana Sports Corp. president. “It showed we were serious and just how committed our corporate and other private partners were.”

While keeping many details of Indianapolis’ bid plans secret for competitive reasons, Melangton said Friday that raising the money needed to host the Super Bowl would be one of five pillars upon which this city’s bid would be built—if the NFL names Indy to the short list in October.

The other four are building on the foundation of the Super Bowl Village, building on the effort to secure more than 8,000 Hoosier volunteers, emphasizing the strengths of Lucas Oil Stadium, and “our passion for a meaningful legacy project,” according to Melangton.

Of those, local bid committee officials said raising the corporate cash ahead of schedule and improving upon the snazzy Super Bowl Village concept that was pioneered here in 2012 would be the most critical.

While there have been some preliminary discussions with potential donors, Melangton said the fundraising for the hosting budget won’t begin in earnest until October—if the city makes the short list.

NFL officials said they will announce in October a short list of cities that will be invited to make a presentation at next May’s owners meeting, where the 2018 Super Bowl site will be voted on.
Melangton said she is confident that the $30 million can be raised in the approximately six months between the short list announcement and the presentation.

The feedback from Indianapolis’ corporate community following the 2012 Super Bowl has given Melangton supreme confidence the never-before-done feat can be repeated.

“As part of the after action review [in 2012], we had meetings with the donor companies that supported the host committee and the response was positive and supportive,” Melangton said. “So we are encouraged with that response.”

The NFL won’t announce which cities have officially asked for permission to bid on the 2018 Super Bowl, but Melangton thinks New Orleans, Tampa and Minneapolis will be Indy’s main competitors. The cash in hand, she said, could be a big first step in setting Indianapolis apart.

“One of the things that has set us apart from all other cities has been our community engagement at all levels,” Melangton said. “I expect that to continue.”

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay figures to be one of those corporate donors. He donated toward the 2012 bid. Although Irsay hasn't yet said how much he'll commit financially, he said on Friday that he's prepared to "call in favors" and "twist arms" of the 31 other NFL team owners that will be voting on the Super Bowl host city.

Despite the money raised for the 2012 Super Bowl, the city’s Capital Improvement Board still lost about $1 million hosting the big game after paying for things like snow removal equipment, security, legal services, insurance, utilities, maintenance and extra trash pick-up.

The loss would likely have been greater if the city had contended with the snow and ice that is common here in February, when the game was held.

Melangton said the loss figures were “mischaracterized by the media.” Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said the economic impact—including money to private businesses and local and state taxes raised from the activities surrounding the game—far exceeded the small loss.

“There’s no question,” Ballard said, “there was a significant and positive return [on investment] from this event.”

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