By all accounts, the 2012 Super Bowl held in Indianapolis 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. Last week, those leaders said they want to host football’s big game in 2018.
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.
Tourism officials say visits to downtown attractions have increased 83 percent since 1994.
The Super Bowl seemed a huge reach, but now that Indianapolis has its first behind it, city leaders want to do it all again in five years.
Hosting the Super Bowl 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, as it did in New Orleans during this year’s Baltimore-San Francisco contest.
Those responsible for putting the Indianapolis event together deserved those accolades. Indianapolis clearly proved it can play on the big stage. The city’s bid for the 2018 Super Bowl should get favorable consideration.