Indy gunning for 2018 Super Bowl, keeping plans closely guarded

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Circle City is going for a super sequel.

State and city leaders gathered Friday morning at Lucas Oil Stadium to announce their intention to bid on Super Bowl LII in 2018.

“(It’s) not the best-kept secret in the world,” said Mark Miles, chairman of the 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee and an honorary co-chair for the 2018 bid.

“Pulling the trigger was very fun and very satisfying,” he added.

Allison Melangton of Indiana Sports Corp. will take the lead this time around as the chair for the event. Melangton served as president/CEO of the 2012 committee.

“The competition will be very, very tough,” Melangton said.

She expects Minneapolis, Tampa and New Orleans to go up against Indianapolis for the bid. According to Melangton, the NFL will release its short list of bid finalists in October. Selected cities will then have to submit a written bid in April and an oral presentation in May before the league makes its final decision.

The announcement included Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, Gov. Mike Pence, former Colts center Jeff Saturday and Colts owner Jim Irsay. The presentation kicked off with a  video montage of highlights from the 2012 Super Bowl, which included NFL players, members of the national media, celebrities, and, of course, the city’s famous zipline.

“We did set the standard for future Super Bowl bidders,” Ballard said. “We changed the game. Indianapolis plans to nail it again for Super Bowl LII.”

Ballard cautioned that getting a second Super Bowl wasn’t a “sure bet.”

“There’s a lot of work and a lot of competition. We have to be sure we submit the best package possible,” he said.

Pence echoed Ballard’s comments about Indianapolis’ place among Super Bowl cities.

“We raised the bar in 2012. We’re going to do it again when Super Bowl LII comes to Indiana in 2018,” Pence said. “We look forward to once again providing appropriate support and encouragement in this process. We’re confident about the bid.”

Miles introduced Jim Irsay, calling him and the Colts the “gold standard for quality in the NFL.” Irsay said Indianapolis has done so many unprecedented things and pledged to support the city’s bid in every way possible.

“As an owner, I can’t say how much (our success) has been a dream come true,” Irsay said of team’s and city’s accomplishments. “We are going after this Super Bowl on the merits of our greatness and what we’ve accomplished so far.”

Irsay said he believes Indy will get the bid, even though other cities may have weather in their favor.

“The rave reviews (for 2012) were just incredible. It’s going to take a mighty effort (to get another one),” Irsay said. “We don’t sell the beaches and the palm trees…what we sell is that we do it better than anyone else and hospitality. We are the gold standard on how Super Bowls are done.”

Former Colts center Jeff Saturday said he offered a unique view of the game.

“I have a different perspective than most. I’ve played in Super Bowls and visited Super Bowls. It doesn’t get better than what we did in Indianapolis,” he said.

Saturday said the Indianapolis Super Bowl was memorable because it offered entertainment for people of all ages. He also said friends on the New England Patriots and New York Giants—the two teams that squared off in the 2012 game—told him that the Indianapolis Super Bowl was their best experience. The media regarded Super Bowl XLVI as the best in Super Bowl history, according to Saturday.

“People felt good about how they were representing themselves. We put the right foot forward and impacted people around the world about how Hoosiers really are,” Saturday said.

Local fans also said they felt good about the city’s chances.

“I think it’d be great for the city,” said fan James Brown. “It’d be great for the community as a whole because it brings revenue in and it’s exciting for all the people.”

“We were just able to present our city so well, I’d like to see it come back again,” said Josh Bolen. “With what we were able to put together last time, I think it would give our city a very good chance to bring it back.”

Melangton said the committee structure for the 2018 bid will be similar to the last one. Ballard, Pence, Irsay and Miles will serve as honorary co-chairs. The 2018 Super Bowl Bid Committee officers include Vice-Chair Cathy Langham (President, Langham Logistics), Vice-Chair David Lewis (Vice President of Global Taxes / Assistant Treasurer, Eli Lilly & Company), Treasurer Derrick Burks (Managing Partner, Ernst and Young), and Secretary Rafael Sanchez (Partner, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP).

“This is a very competitive process,” Melangton said. “We’ve going to hold our cards closely so that we have a competitive advantage.”

Melangton said there was no guarantee that Indianapolis would make the short list, and declined to provide many specifics about the bid. She did say that the Super Bowl Village would again play a significant role.

“We will build on the foundation of the Super Bowl Village. A large component of the bid will include the village and what we intend to do with it in the future,” she said.

Melangton outlined several advantages for Indianapolis, including its central location and ease of access. Donor support was vital to the 2012 bid, and will remain important for the 2018 plan. She also considers Lucas Oil Stadium and the city’s desire for a legacy project like the near east side project for 2012 to be assets.

“In eight months, we hope we’ll be back here and be able to say that the epicenter of awesome is back,” Melangton said, referring to the city’s theme from the 2012 Super Bowl.

The bid committee acknowledged that there were some kinks to work out following the 2012 super celebration. Melangton and Ballard addressed concerns about overcrowding in the city during the LMFAO concert.  Melangton said they underestimated how many people would attend while Ballard said the city bolstered public safety as it saw the crowds swell. Melangton also said the weather conditions were mild, meaning more people were out than anticipated.

“It was a lot of people down there that particular night. People were looking at it as it was happening to take care of it,” Ballard said.

Speaking of the weather, Melangton said they studied plans for the Winter Olympics and did what they could to prepare people for the possibility of cold weather. While temperatures were mild, she insisted the city would’ve been prepared for snow and ice.

“I have every confidence that we have the best weather plan ever. We’re 100 percent comfortable with it. If we’d had bad weather, we would’ve handled it appropriately,” she said.

And the most pressing issue: how does the city top the zipline?

The answer, Melangton said, will have to wait.

“That’s a secret.”

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