Over the last three years, only one city has pulled off a flawless Super Bowl.
Not Dallas, home of Super Bowl XLV where a freak winter storm and a lack of permanent seating left many football fans feeling cold. Not New Orleans, home of Super Bowl XLVII, where a power outage literally left fans in the dark.
It was Indianapolis, home of Super Bowl XLVI, where record numbers of fans trekked through the NFL Experience and packed downtown streets in the Super Bowl Village.
“I think in a lot of ways Indianapolis set a new standard for how Super Bowls are run,” said Dr. Larry D Garis, sports economist at the University of Indianapolis. “I think being a smaller market was an advantage because we could customize to an extent.”
Being one of the NFL’s smaller markets worked to Indianapolis’ advantage as there was the type of civic commitment and participation not found in other traditional Super Bowl cities like Miami, Houston and New Orleans.
The NFL Experience in New Orleans attracted 90,000, while a year earlier the same event in Indianapolis set a record of 265,000 in attendance.
The Super Bowl Boulevard in the Big Easy, a city known for its pleasant climate and bar hopping tradition, was expected to attract 500,000 over four days.
Indianapolis’ Super Bowl village brought 1.1 million people downtown over the course of a week.
“The Fan Village, I think that whole concept can be expanded,” said DeGaris. “I think where the growth opportunity for the Super Bowl is on the fan side and where Indianapolis benefits there, you’re basically within driving distance of tons. I mean, you’re the Crossroads of America.”
Next year the New York Giants and Jets will play host to the Super Bowl.
In May, 2014, NFL owners will meet to award the 2018 game that Allison Melangton, president of the Indiana Sports Corporation, hopes to bring home.
“There’s no question we have an advantage this time that we didn’t have last time,” she said before leaving for this year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans. “We actually were able to execute what we promised we would.”
Melangton attended sessions with NFL Super Bowl planners prior to this year’s game to gauge the league’s priorities and also show other potential host cities that Indianapolis is serious about hosting another game.
“The other cities are all trying to figure out what cities are serious about bidding and which ones are not and we want everyone to know that we are dead serious about 2018.
“We intend to bid and we intend to win.”
Indianapolis may find itself competing against non-traditional cities such as Minneapolis, a cold weather site due to open a new stadium, and San Francisco, which also has a new venue on the drawing board.
DeGaris warns that while 2018 is very feasible for the next bid, Indianapolis may find itself competing against the world in the next decade when it comes to hosting a Super Bowl.
“What would it take to put (the Super Bowl) on a par with the Olympics or the World Cup?” he asked. “If it’s going to be a global event, then it needs to be global.”