A Super Effort By Indianapolis
Over the years, I’ve come to consider Indianapolis as my adopted hometown. It’s only four hours away from Nashville and I’ve been visiting there since I was six years old; when I attended my first Indianapolis 500 in 1965. As an adult, I’ve been a frequent attendee of the Month of May for the race and qualifying weekends for the past twenty years or so – except for those dreadful IRL years from 1996 through 2002.
I even tried to move there in the mid-nineties. Back in my married days, my wife – who hailed from Philadelphia – absolutely hated living in the south. For years, she begged me to move to a northern city – any northern city. Naturally, I set my sights on Indianapolis. I was in the midst of an eight year run in pharmaceutical sales. I endured a grueling four-hour interview in Carmel for a promotion in Indianapolis. I didn’t get it and we stayed put in the south. A year and a half later, she bolted. She now lives in Atlanta, further south than me. Go figure.
I have traveled to Indianapolis enough to know the nice areas, the trendy areas and the areas to avoid. I know local restaurants – the touristy ones and the ones with true local flavor. Through this site, I’ve also developed some relationships with people I converse with throughout the year – on things other than racing, believe it or not.
Added to that is my connection to the city through former Tennessee Vol Peyton Manning. As he is the one that is single most responsible for Lucas Oil Stadium, he is also lauded as the one person most responsible for leading my Alma Mater back to an elite program after two decades of mediocrity. Although the Colts play in the same division with the Titans, I always find myself cheering for Peyton and the Colts for all but two games a year (except when their winning negatively impacts the Titans playoff chances). As with all Colts fans, it’s tough for me to see the University of Tennessee’s most famous son endure what he is currently going through.
All in all, I feel like I know the city of Indianapolis better than any city I’ve never lived in. That’s why I’ve been enjoying watching the great job that Indianapolis has done in hosting its first ever Super Bowl. In a way, I feel a sense of civic pride while reading and hearing all of the accolades that have been bestowed upon the Circle City.
By all accounts, the praise is well deserved. Make no mistake; they got a huge boost from the weatherman. Festivities around downtown have been helped with daytime temperatures in the sixties – beyond perfect for a northern city in early February. Had the city of Indianapolis been hosting the Super Bowl at this time last year, it would have been miserable. The match-up didn’t hurt either, as it featured a rematch of the classic Super Bowl of four years ago, when the Giants derailed the Patriots bid for a perfect season. Interest was also naturally high since it featured teams from two major markets that historically despise each other – Boston and New York.
Then, to top it all off – they got a great game. There were four lead changes topped off with another game-winning touchdown drive by Eli Manning, with fifty-seven seconds to go. There was no Tom Brady magic for the Patriots. Time ran out as the Giants won 21-17.
But had those factors not fallen into place, Indianapolis was still going to shine. This was only the third northern city to host a Super Bowl – Detroit and Minneapolis being the other two. As I recall, each of those cities had a few hiccups in their first attempt as well as snowy weather. Super Bowls held in southern markets Atlanta and Dallas featured bad weather and other non-weather related chaotic moments. Indianapolis steered clear of all of these problems.
The amount of planning that went into hosting Super Bowl XLVI cannot be overstated. This event was years in the making and the hard work paid off. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was quoted during the week as saying that Indianapolis had been such a positive experience that the city may find itself in the regular rotation along with Miami, New Orleans and Phoenix.
Don’t underestimate the role of Tony George in the early stages of landing the Super Bowl for Indianapolis. Although I don’t agree with the way he split open-wheel racing, I’ve never denied his passion for racing and his Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His family’s devotion to Indiana and the city of Indianapolis is also noteworthy. From what I understand, he was fairly heavily involved in the initial committee that worked to secure the Super Bowl held yesterday.
Whoever came up with the idea of using IndyCars, as a way to tie in a racing theme with the NFL should be given a medal. Throughout the city were old and used IndyCars painted in the colors of the thirty-two NFL teams. For the Giants and Patriots, their colors were represented on the new Dallara DW12. Supposedly, this was the first time that the NFL has allowed their logos to be featured with another sport. Apparently, this was a big hit. Will it garner any new fans? Possibly. It certainly gave many people that had never seen one an up close look at an IndyCar.
Also credit whoever had the idea to hold a media party at IMS one night last week. Many sportswriters, who may have no real interest in racing, probably came away with a whole new perception of the facility once they saw it. I don’t pretend to know who was responsible for these IndyCar tie-ins, but they deserve some recognition within the IndyCar ranks, now that the event is over.
It also happened to be a nice coincidence that this Super Bowl was on NBC, the network who just re-branded the network previously known as Versus. It provided a nice platform to showcase the aforementioned racing tie-in to the city that had done such a good job with the Super Bowl. It also helped to promote upcoming IZOD IndyCar Series races that would be appearing on the NBC Sports Network.
All in all, Indianapolis should be proud. They already had experience in handling large crowds. They leveraged that with a well-organized committee and a lot of hard work. They showcased the city quite nicely, and showed the world what we already knew – that “Naptown” is not the sleepy midwestern dwelling that everyone perceives it to be. Former IndyCar blogger and current PR person for Bryan Herta Autosport, Monica Hilton (aka The Race gIRL) said it best on Twitter yesterday morning: "As Indy welcomes you all today for SB46 please remember… hosting the world’s greatest event is what we do EVERY year". It certainly made me proud as an honorary adopted Hoosier.