The issue: The Super Bowl.
Our view: Indianapolis left a great impression on thousands of visitors last year. Here’s hoping it gets another crack at wowing the nation in the coming years.
By all accounts, the Super Bowl held in Indianapolis last year was a grand success. Host committee representatives say total attendance at the Super Bowl village topped 1 million people.
The event was the culmination of literally decades of effort, a transformation that began long before city leaders ever dreamed of bidding for the Super Bowl.
In the 1980s, the city built a domed stadium, and in 1984, it lured the Colts from Baltimore. The city also began billing itself as the nation’s amateur sports capital, and it hosted the Pan Am Games in 1987.
The city that had fewer than 500 hotel rooms downtown in 1970 now has more than 6,500, and about a dozen new hotels have opened in the past decade, including a 1,000-room JW Marriott. The number of downtown restaurants and bars has doubled to 300 in the past 10 years, and there are more than 200 shops.
On any given night, visitors can travel just a few blocks to see the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, stage productions at Indiana Repertory Theatre or live music at Old National Centre or White River State Park. The downtown canal walk offers pedal boats, gondolas and bicycles for rent.
Tourism officials say visits to downtown attractions have increased 83 percent since 1994.
The Super Bowl still seemed a huge reach, but now that Indianapolis has its first behind it, city leaders are thinking about the next one.
Hosting football’s big game was a great experience for Indianapolis, and all of the preparation clearly paid off. Visitor after visitor complimented the event’s organizers on how smoothly things went.
And a power outage didn’t stop play for more than 30 minutes.
Those responsible for putting the Indianapolis event together deserved those accolades. Without question, they did an excellent job.
It’s worth noting, of course, that they also got incredibly lucky with the weather. Temperatures were well above normal, boosting the crowds in the Super Bowl Village by thousands of people. Late January and early February could just as easily have brought a blizzard or sub-zero temperatures.
Still, many of the activities were indoors, and those would have been successful regardless of the weather.
Indianapolis clearly proved it can play on the big stage. The city’s next bid for a Super Bowl should get favorable consideration.