Indianapolis, IN Sees Benefit From Past Hosting Experience
When it comes to athletic events that transcend sport, captivate the culture and draw billions of viewers, the very short list includes the Olympics, the World Cup and the National Football League’s annual Super Bowl.
Super Bowl 50 is set for Sun., Feb. 7, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Part football championship, part commercial extravaganza, the Super Bowl shines a spotlight not only on the teams involved but also on the host city. But the cost to host such an event can be huge, causing many economists to question whether it’s worth all the fuss.
Counting the Costs
As the NFL ramps up its requirements for cities vying to host the rotating-site game, civic leaders are looking closely at the costs and benefits of bidding on America’s most-watched event.
According to a 153-page document leaked last November, the NFL’s lengthy list of requirements includes a stadium with at least 70,000 seats, 35 percent as many hotel rooms as seats within an hour’s drive (at least 24,500 rooms), luxury boxes for NFL brass, 35,000 free parking spaces, portable cellphone towers, free police escorts for team owners, free access to “top-quality” golf courses in the months leading to the game, full tax exemptions and more.
While such stringent requests and “hidden costs” to host cities can lessen the promised economic windfall, at least one former host city’s leaders say the pluses of hosting the Super Bowl far outweigh the minuses.
Indy’s All In
Indianapolis, Ind., had such a positive experience hosting Super Bowl XLVI – a thrilling 2012 match-up in which the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots, 21-17 – that the city recently bid again for the 2018 content, losing out to Minneapolis.
The 2012 event resulted in a net direct economic impact of $176 million, according to a study commissioned by the host committee that measured visitor activity in the Indianapolis metro area during 10 days surrounding the game. The tally included $384 million in total spending, 84 cents of every dollar staying in Indianapolis and $20 million collected in state-tax revenues.
“Opportunities don’t come along very often with that many eyeballs focused on your city,” says John Dedman, vice president of communications for Indiana Sports Corp., which has played an instrumental role in attracting the Super Bowl, NCAA basketball Final Fours – including the 2015 men’s championships – and other large events to the Hoosier State.
“The Super Bowl gave us a chance to brand our city as an attractive place to live, work and visit,” he says.
Much More Than a Game
For five days, ESPN set up shop and broadcast from the heart of Indy. The city built a Super Bowl Village that drew 1.1 million fans, including late-night host Jimmy Fallon, who recorded several features for his show. Some 60 musical acts performed.
“We really wanted this to be a community celebration and not just a four-hour event,” Dedman says.
To engage the entire community, Indy leaders also used the game to generate funding and volunteers for a Legacy Initiative, providing youth programming in under-served communities throughout Indiana.
Dedman understands why the NFL’s standards are high for host sites.
“With an event of this magnitude, and the competition among cities, there are certain things you’re going to have to give,” he says. “For us, it was great for our community, not only economically but also from a branding, recognition and civic-pride standpoint.”
“The Super Bowl was great for our community, not only economically but also from a branding, recognition and civic-pride standpoint.”