Indy hopes to court Super Bowl - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Indy hopes to court Super Bowl

Lucas Oil Stadium: Home of the 2011 Super Bowl? Lucas Oil Stadium: Home of the 2011 Super Bowl?

Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - It's not too early for Indianapolis to think Super Bowl - the 2011 Super Bowl, that is. Indianapolis, Phoenix and Dallas have all expressed interest in hosting football's big event.

Indianapolis business and government leaders think the city has a good shot at getting the game with Lucas Oil Stadium opening in 2008, but a great stadium is just the start.

So what will it take to host the Super Bowl? The NFL's Brian McCarthy said the NFL's checklist starts with weather. Temperatures must average 50 degrees or higher in January or the host city must have a climate-controlled venue. Lucas Oil meets that requirement.

That venue needs at least 70,000 seats. Lucas Oil can provide that. McCarthy said if the venue is new, the host team must have played at least two regular seasons in the stadium. The Colts will have.

The host city must also provide two comparable practice facilities. Indy has the Colts training facility, but needs another.

Capital Improvement Board President Fred Glass said that's one requirement the city needs to address.

"That's going to be an expense," Glass said. "It's the challenge of a cold-weather city. We have to have a top over our second facility. We'll be able to do it. It's just the expense."

McCarthy said the host city must provide a first-class media center able to accommodate 3,500 journalists from around the world. It must provide between 700,000 and one million square feet for the NFL Experience, an interactive theme park and it must have facilities able to house large-scale events, like the Commissioners' party, expected to draw 5,000 to 7,000 people.

Glass said the expanded convention center should accommodate much of that, with other venues such as Conseco Fieldhouse also available.

"We're built for entertainment to host big events," Glass said, pointing to the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard and U.S. Grand Prix. Indy has also hosted five men's Final Four Championships.

McCarthy said the NFL also requires a host city to provide 27,000 available hotel rooms within an hour's drive of the venue. Those rooms must be designated for the Super Bowl.

"That will be one of the challenges," Glass said, "But I believe we'll absolutely be able to meet that and without bringing cruise ships up the White River or anything off the wall like that."

Glass was referring to Jacksonville, Florida which hosted the Super Bowl in 2005. Because it didn't have enough hotel rooms, Jacksonville used cruise ships to make up the difference.

He said the new 1,000-room JW Marriott convention center hotel will help considerably. It's due to open in early 2010. Also on the list of NFL requirements?

Adequate security, transportation and 5,000 to 10,000 volunteers. No problem, said Glass.

"Again, the events we put on are a huge advantage for us," Glass said. "We know how to run big events. Our police officers know how to run events, our firefighters do."

Nearby attractions can help. Miami, the site of this year's Super Bowl, offers an array of outdoor activities including beaches, boating, fishing and golfing. Glass said while Indianapolis can't compete with South Florida on weather, it does offer an array of attractions and a compact, easy-to-get-around downtown.

"The hotels are close to the venues, the restaurants and bars, so you get this buzz of activity that you don't get in other places," Glass said. "What we bring is this excitement focused on downtown."

Glass estimates the cost of hosting a Super Bowl in Indianapolis at $15 million to $20 million, all money that would be privately raised. Glass said he and others exploring the feasibility of a bid, will make a decision by month's end. At this point, he said, it looks likely they will pursue it.

The NFL requires bids by April first. McCarthy said league officials will then spend a month or so helping cities improve their bids. Those cities will make a final presentation to the NFL owners, who meet in Nashville in mid-May.

A final decision is expected then.

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