Indianapolis gears up for 2018 Super Bowl bid

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One year after Indianapolis hosted its first Super Bowl, the Circle City is looking ahead to the next one.

It plans to bid on the 2018 game, but Indiana Sports Corp. President Allison Melangton makes it clear "it's definitely going to be more competitive" than it was in 2007 and 2008.

She said up to ten cities are expected to go for 2018.

Melangton, who led Indianapolis' 2012 Super Bowl effort and is in now in charge of the 2018 bid, stressed, "If we don't think we have a good shot of winning, we may not bid."

As part of her "homework," she spent last week in New Orleans to learn more about the NFL's new bid process and to see how the Big Easy fared.

She said New Orleans did a good job with the Super Bowl this year - even combining it with Mardi Gras preparations, and, like Indianapolis, it enjoyed nice weather.

But instead of attending the game, Melangton watched operations from outside the Superdome. She called the 35-minute power outage in the second half of the game "very unfortunate," but said given their experience in past games, New Orleans was still a strong contender.

She noted the 2018 bid process will be different from other years. Cities must declare interest in hosting the game by August with the NFL announcing a short list in September. Three to four cities are expected to be finalists.

Even though Indianapolis already has a proven track record, she said, this time the city will have to "do new and innovative things" to get the game.

"We will be keeping a close eye on who the NFL awards the 2016 and 2017 Super Bowls to" in May "because we'll likely be bidding against the city that doesn't get 2016 or 2017," said Melangton.

Another factor? Two cities wanting to host, San Francisco and Minneapolis, are building new stadiums. And the NFL has a history of awarding the game to cities that invest in new venues.

Plus there's the weather factor. While Indianapolis enjoyed an unseasonably mild week last year, that's the exception rather than the rule.

"Even though we prepared for weather, I think the winter weather Super Bowls are going to be awarded few and far between," she said.

Still, Indianapolis won rave reviews on everything from its Super Bowl Village and Legacy Project to its Super Scarves program and huge volunteer base.

When it comes down to 2018, Melangton said, "We have to make sure we're in a situation we believe we can win."

For now, she said they are, but that could change depending who's in play.

Melangton said they'll work towards raising money but she doesn't anticipate it being substantially more than in 2012. 

Hotel rooms

To get the 2012 game, Indianapolis built a new stadium, expanded the convention center and helped finance the 1,005-room JW Marriott. The city offered up more than the 18,000 rooms required to host the Super Bowl.

But following the game, some league officials said there weren't enough rooms downtown, especially luxury rooms. The Indiana Hotel and Lodging Association counts 4,500 "full-service rooms" downtown.

While the 278-room University Place Hotel on the IUPUI campus is closing as a hotel, a new 209-room Dolce Hotel is going up as part of the City Way project just south of downtown.

Another possible obstacle to the 2018 bid is the size of Lucas Oil Stadium. At 63,000 seats, it's one of the smallest in the league and the more seats a stadium has, the more money the NFL gets.

Indianapolis was considered the front-runner when it bid in 2007 until Dallas came back at the last minute promising 100,000 seats.