During and after the completion of the Super Bowl festivities this year, it was a common to hear visitors review the experience as one of the best jobs hosting a Super Bowl ever. Maybe even the best. Such reviews are especially important since so many people, especially sports writers across the nation, were critical of the decision to choose Indianapolis in the first place.
Immediately after the Super Bowl was over, everyone knew that Indy would be seeking Round Two. It's almost a surprise that it took this long. The visitors loved it and the citizens of Indianapolis and Central Indiana had a great time and have been begging for more.
This morning, the Star reports that mayor Ballard and Governor Daniels announced that direct spending as a result of the Super Bowl was $152 million. Although some spending projections were as high as $200 million, the numbers released today were higher than the more common $150 million projections that seem to be the only ones currently remembered.
But today's numbers are suspect. As Gary Welsh at Advance Indiana points out, hotel and sales tax revenue don't seem to match up with the $152 million dollar story. But even if the revenue numbers are correct, that's only part of what went on.
Today's numbers fail to take into account the grand expenses involved. There is no mention at all of the two reports coming out of the CIB that says that organization lost a million dollars from the hosting duties. There's barely a mention of the multi-million dollar Georgia Street project; a project which was supposed to have long-term benefits as a pedestrian mall, but has recently left businesses complaining it is often barren.
And Welsh is the only person currently talking about the troubles that businesses not located in the central downtown area faced. Based on the hype, many restaurants and bars spent tens of thousands of dollars to stock up on food and alcohol to prepare for an onslaught of business that never came.
For corporate restaurants this may not have been an enormous problem. For "Mom & Pop" establishments, though, tying up that kind of cash in unused stock, much of it perishable, can be crippling. It forces them to change their business model for the rest of the year and can risk putting them out of business.
So, as Indianapolis starts building excitement about the possibility of hosting another Big Game, remember that things from the last one may not have turned out as great as it seems. I'm not saying we shouldn't want to host another one. The last one WAS a great time and WAS great for the morale of the City. We should demand more transparency this time around, though. And we should make sure that we don't give the farm away to the NFL for the chance to host.
Let's just make sure we know what's going on before we put our arms around the idea of another Super Bowl and hug tight.