Georgia Street to transform into Super Bowl Village
Scott Swan/Eyewitness News
Indianapolis - When the 2012 Super Bowl comes to Indianapolis, the world will be focused on Lucas Oil Stadium. But one of the streets near the stadium will be turned into a Super Bowl village.
If you take a stroll on Georgia Street, you are bound to hear it. The heavy equipment represents more than construction. It is Super Bowl preparation. Members of the Indianapolis Host Committee can look beyond the orange barrels and can visualize what Georgia Street will become when a projected 100,000-150,000 people descend on the city for the Super Bowl on February 5, 2012.
"We really think this promenade between Conseco Fieldhouse and the convention center is going to be a great place for all the pedestrians and spectators to come," says Susan Baughman, the Senior VP of Hospitality Services and Events. "There are going to be lights, sounds, there's going to be bands. There's going to be a lot of razzle dazzle. There will be interactive things to do outside. It doesn't matter if you're an NFC fan, an AFC fan, there's a place for you to come and cheer on your team and be around other people. You can come in, come with your buddies, bring your family and be able to participate in a lot of activities without ever going to the game."
The $11.5 million Georgia Street project, using federal and local dollars, will turn the busy street into a Super Bowl Village. Designers are reconstructing three blocks of Georgia Street from Pennsylvania to Capitol Avenue. The Super Bowl Village will feature café dining on the sidewalks and a boardwalk in the center of the street. It will be designed as a free, festive atmosphere where fans without a game ticket can mingle outside in the afternoon and evening, get a drink, huddle in warm zones with heaters and enjoy concerts.
"We are not shying away from the weather. We're going to have fun with it. There are different things we can do outside to keep the fans warm and happy," said Baughman.
"The village is really going to be the front door to the NFL experience in the convention center and Conseco Fieldhouse, which will also host events," said William Browne, the Founding Principal and President of Ratio Architects. "This becomes the street fair, if you will, the activity spot to radiate out from downtown for the many events that will take place during the Super Bowl."
But, the construction needed to create the Super Bowl village is hurting the Pub, a popular restaurant on Georgia Street near Conseco Fieldhouse. The restaurant owner says lunch and after-work business is down 40%.
"I think if people come down and see construction, they're going to veer away from the construction," said owner Gordon Coke. "Right now, we're trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel but it's pretty hard to see the light right now."
City leaders are holding meetings with Georgia Street businesses and sending out emails with updates on the construction. Updates can be found on the city's website.
Sarah Holsapple with the Department of Public Works says her office has helped The Pub find small business loans during the construction period.
Managers at the Old Spaghetti Factory are getting creative in hopes of making up for a 5% loss in lunch business, blamed on Georgia Street construction.
"We're starting a new catering program. This is all in an effort to supplement what we would get during lunches. We have a full service catering business that we started at the beginning of last year. We're booking school groups as fast as we can," said general manager Paul Burgess. "Our weekday lunches have really seen the effect of it of people not being able to walk down from (Monument) Circle. But our weekends are great. Our night time (business) is holding pretty steady."
Business remains strong at Mikado, despite the construction outside the restaurant doors. Manager Scott Stineman is hopeful of adding sidewalk seating during the 2012 Super Bowl. Restaurants along Georgia Street are banking on big business in February, 2012.
"Hopefully, it's going to be two to three times the size of a Final Four," said Pub owner Gordon Coke. "I think this is going to be a landmark issue where you come downtown and have something nice during the summer. So, we're excited about it. We're just trying to keep the doors open and try to make it between now and the Super Bowl."
"(Georgia Street) should be a nicer place to come down and enjoy food with your family, lunch dinner, whenever," said Burgess.
Those with the Super Bowl host committee believe the city will benefit from the Georgia Street facelift long after the winning team celebrates with the Lombardi Trophy.
"We really believe this is going to continue to add to Indianapolis' cache as far as a destination for conventions and events in the city," said Browne. "We believe this outdoor venue coupled with an area like Monument Circle with our indoor venues like the Convention Center and Conseco Fieldhouse, will continue to make this a nice destination for people to consider."
Construction is scheduled for completion by the end of 2011.