Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We Just May Get an ROI on This Super Bowl, After All

Thursday night at the Circle
Wow, Indianapolis.  Wow.
I have been a critic of the Indy Super Bowl from the beginning.  Sure, I was excited the city was getting a Super Bowl, but I hated the cost involved in them doing so.
Although the final deals have still never been brought fully to light, we do know a few things about the cost of the Super Bowl.  The CIB projected an $800,000 loss.  The Georgia Street project cost millions.  The NFL got waivers on hotel taxes and rental car taxes and others, as well as got several pieces of prime parking and other real estate turned over to them for the week at no cost.
Who knows what else.  More info will eventually come to light, but we're unlikely to ever be told just how much it cost us to get a Super Bowl. And with spending by visitors falling well short of the estimated $200 million, very few think that the event had any chance of being a fiscal positive for this city.
But I'm starting to think that it might squeak out a profit for us.  Not the event itself, not even close.  But the return the city may get in return visits and conventions and such.
Why think that?  Because, like you, I heard over, and over, and over again that Indianapolis did a SUPERB job hosting.  I never heard one negative report, and I heard several that said we just might've been the best Super Bowl host ever.  EVER.
Those are bold statements coming from a crowd of people that are often judgemental and often have say in where there companies will spend their money. 
Today we are a city that just had every single hotel room filled with people that mingled in our downtown for a week.  They were amazed by it.  They loved the atmosphere.  They loved the proximity of everything.  They, well...they fell in love with Indianapolis.  They are leaving thinking about how great of a place Indy is for hosting an event.
So don't be surprised if we start seeing our convention calenders filling up.  Don;t be surprised if we don't see a few more companies choose to put some offices here.  Don't be surprised if we don't see Indy begin to benefit form the cost of hosting a Super Bowl.
But the clock is ticking, too.  Our amazing job hosting a Super Bowl will almost certainly get us the ability to host at least one more.  Probably within a decade or so.  And that means that any added benefit will have to be achieved by then.  We set a precedent on what we'd give the NFL to allow us to host, and they'll expect at least that much next time. So if we can't make up our losses by then, it's still a loser.
So how do we begin?  As I saw someone else point out recently (and I'm sorry I cannot seem to find the article to give proper credit...) I think we begin by bidding for the 2016 political conventions.  Now that we've very successfully hosted a Super Bowl, there's not too many other big events that can consider ruling us out.
P.S. - If you never got a chance to go downtown and experience what the city put together, you really missed out. I just went down there and walked around for a few hours. No events. No parties. Just walked around. It was, nonetheless, an experience I will never forget. Completely amazing.

A view in Super Bowl Village Thursday night


  1. I wish I'd written this column. You expressed my view perfectly. Thanks.

  2. People got a view of a SUPERB Downtown, tarted up. A tiny slice of Indianapolis.

  3. @Anonymous - I agree they only saw a piece of what our city has to offer. Do you think that somehow inhibits our ability to score more conventions and events in the future?

  4. No, I just wish that the same emphasis on neighborhood improvements and other quality of life issues for residents of All neighborhoods here would be given the same focus and attention as the Host Committee gave downtown, by the Mayor and Council...the 'where there is a will there is a way' mentality. Too often I see both arms of the government embracing campaign contributors needs for more profit than what I wished for, above.

  5. I agree. I think the City-County Council and the Mayor historically spend way too much time about what to do with Downtown. This problem only got amplified by the Super Bowl.

    I understand that tourists bring a lot of outside money to our city, and that you need to make sure that the convention district is an area that they will love and want to return to. That doesn't mean that it's the only area in town, though.