SBD/January 30, 2012/Events and Attractions

Indy With Smaller Size, Offerings Is Different Kind Of Super Bowl Host

Indianapolis will open a pedestrian-friendly Super Bowl Village downtown
A combination of “far fewer hotel rooms than a typical host city, two teams from large markets getting to the league’s championship game, and the NFL itself gobbling up most of the prime spaces has led to what executives are calling historically high prices" for Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, according to Lefton & Kaplan of SPORTBUSINESS JOURNAL. Remarkably “well-connected industry types are staying miles out of town,” and large corporations are hosting client hospitality “in distant cities, including Chicago, which is about 180 miles from Indianapolis.” Whereas many years the “most frequently heard question on the streets of a Super Bowl city is ‘Whadya pay for your ticket?’ this year, the same question is being asked about hotel rooms.” Unlike many Super Bowls that have the weekend’s events “spread out, Indianapolis’ allure was a compact geography that, in theory, would allow fans to walk to everything.” As things have played out, such accommodations “will be mostly for the very well-connected,” with everyone else “staying away from downtown.” Even the NFL’s “own Super Bowl party, Friday night’s commissioner’s party, is not downtown but about five miles away, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.” Indianapolis by population count is the “smallest Super Bowl host city since Jacksonville, which saw its first and likely last Super Bowl in 2005” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/30 issue). In Indianapolis, Jeff Swiatek noted TravelClick, which "tracks 14,000 rooms in the Indianapolis area, reported that 90 percent, or 13,000, were booked" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/28). Meanwhile, SI's Peter King writes it was a "nice touch by having Indiana schoolchildren put little drawings in everyone's hotel room downtown." King: "Reminds me of what Olympic host cities do" (SI.com, 1/30).

DIFFERENT KIND OF HOST: In N.Y., John Branch wrote Indianapolis “promises to be a different kind of Super Bowl host.” The city “does not have a big act to follow,” as last year’s game in Arlington was “stained by logistical nightmares, including a paralyzing ice storm, injuries caused by falling ice at the stadium and ticket-holders left without seats on game day because temporary bleachers were not completed in time.” Indianapolis “vowed to play to its strengths -- its history of event planning, its community spirit, its compact downtown.” Lucas Oil Stadium is downtown, and the “primary festivities are compressed into an area roughly eight blocks square.” Even the teams, usually “sequestered far from the frivolity, are staying downtown,” and most of the parties are there as well. Its three-block “pedestrian-friendly Super Bowl Village evokes the medal plazas of Salt Lake City in 2002 and Vancouver in 2010, with live music, games and demonstrations” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/29). In Indianapolis, Robert King wrote under the header, “Indy Looks Super-Prepared For Super Bowl 2012.” With what is "quite possibly the most important week in the city's history just beginning,” it is “hard from this vantage point to remember that a short time ago we had a much smaller Indiana Convention Center that couldn't have handled what's before us now.” The “huge question to be answered is whether our chief asset -- a compact Downtown -- will be so overwhelmed and so strangled that we're left with gridlock” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/29). But in Indianapolis, Matthew Tully wrote, “For one week, let's accept the craziness and embrace the spectacle. Let's soak in the wild scene and the jolt of energy and glitz that will envelop Indianapolis as our midmarket town becomes the epicenter of sports and pop culture, and as we briefly become a city that never sleeps.” The next seven days “truly will be all Super Bowl, all the time.” Final Fours, Big Ten tournaments and the Indy 500 “turn the city into sports central,” but the city has “never seen anything like this” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/29).

TICKETS IN DEMAND: Ticket Experience co-Owner Patrick Ryan said the high cost of tickets for Super Bowl XLVI on the secondary market is partly because “this is probably the last time for the foreseeable future" that the Midwest “will host a Super Bowl." The “other big factor is just the general public is more and more comfortable with the secondary market.” Ryan said the current $4,000 ticket average on the secondary market is “a little bit inflated” but it’s not “going to collapse completely to where it’s below face value." Ryan: "There’s some room for it to soften but it’s going to hold” ("CNBC Sports Biz: Game On!," NBC Sports Network, 1/27). 

WILL WE MEET AGAIN? In Ft. Worth, Charean Williams noted despite Super Bowl XLV last year being “marred by ice, snow and a seating fiasco,” North Texas' first time as host “is not expected to be the last.” North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee Chair and Pro Football HOFer Roger Staubach said, "We'll definitely get another one here. I don't know when. The NFL is more involved now in telling the cities when they can get in. I'm not sure. The process has changed a little bit, but we'll get another one here.” However, Williams noted Atlanta has not gotten another Super Bowl “since an ice storm paralyzed the city the week of Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/29). Chargers Chair & President Dean Spanos said, “I’m always supportive of hosting the Super Bowl where a new stadium has been built. It shows a commitment to the team itself and to the city. It’s a great opportunity for the community of Indianapolis. I’m for helping the communities where they have new stadiums” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/28).

GOING IT ALONE: In Miami, Douglas Hanks noted Dolphins CEO Mike Dee discussed the possibility of Miami-Dade County "going it alone in pursuit of the 2016 Super Bowl," citing Broward County commissioners’ '11 vote "against raising taxes to fund a $225 million renovation of Sun Life Stadium.” Dee Friday said, “Broward County spoke loudly last year. We heard them. ... We will certainly take that into account as we conduct our business, and look to Miami-Dade County for our partnership." banks noted it is unclear if Dee’s remarks “represented more than a political volley in the always prickly topic of public funding for private stadiums.” But they “hint at a major reworking of how the region pursues Super Bowls, which increasingly have been a team effort between Broward and Miami-Dade” (MIAMI HERALD, 1/28). Dee said, “That doesn’t mean Broward and Palm Beach counties don’t benefit from people who are coming here for the game. But in terms of NFL-sanctioned events and functions and where teams stay and where the epicenter of the event is, should that be Miami-Dade or should it be as it was in 2010. We’ve got to figure that out” (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 1/27).
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