SBJ/January 30-February 5, 2012/Super Bowl

Miles: Why Indy is ready for the spotlight

Mark Miles for 15 years was the first CEO of the modern ATP, leaving in 2006 to head up the nonprofit Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, a regional coalition of CEOs of Central Indiana employers and leaders of universities. In 2008, he became chairman of the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, meaning he will have been in charge of perhaps
the two most important events Indianapolis has ever hosted: the 1987 Pan American Games, and Sunday’s Super Bowl. SportsBusiness Journal’s Daniel Kaplan caught up with the always friendly Miles (nicknamed Mr. Sunshine by the German tennis press during his tennis days). Some of his answers may surprise, like which event he has run that had more than four times the number of volunteers than the Super Bowl, and his thoughts about snow this week.


What distinguishes this Super Bowl from others?
Miles
Photo by: Rob Banayote
MILES:
As a general matter, they were spread out. Indianapolis has been designed over the last three decades so many of the venues and hotel rooms are right downtown. … We saw this convenient infrastructure as a way of creating a compact village-like ambience that will create a more fun atmosphere than any other Super Bowl city has offered, inspite of the weather. The weather is obviously a challenge, but people can have fun in the cold.
We will make it a winter Super Bowl festival, the epicenter of which is the Super Bowl village. The city and state put $13 million into making a three-block-long street, which is right in the heart of all of this.

Why will the village have zip lines?
MILES: For fun. We will have four zip lines, which usually take riders over dams and gorges. You attach yourself to a harness and then you go and just fly down this line until it comes to the end. It’s an amusement park-like ride. Each ride is 800 feet long.

What skills from the ATP helped you here?

MILES: Fifteen years at the ATP sharpens one’s problem solving skills. … Frankly, in many respects, my experience at the Pan American Games is probably more relevant. It is a big event. It is the same event as the Summer Olympics except even more sports and competitions to medal, but limited to the Olympic committee of the Western Hemisphere. In 1987, we had 36,000 volunteers to staff for that; for this we have 8,000.

Did the lockout affect planning?
MILES: We always believed we might have a truncated season but they would find a way to have the Super Bowl. … But had we not raised the money early (first part of 2008), it would have been a different story. … That inoculated us from the labor issue, and the economic issues.

Talk about what happens with horrific weather.
MILES: In terms of weather, we really don’t want to sound foolhardy, but we are not very concerned about the weather. We have stockpiled equipment and salt that a Northern city normally has to deal with snow. My worry is more rain. Rain does not create a situation where you can’t get people around or have the game, but it could put a damper on the outdoor village experiences. People have fun in the snow. Snow in the village we hope happens. Rain for an outdoor experience is more of a downer. Ice is the worst.

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