Indianapolis Super Bowl Committee heading to east coast

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Four members of the Indianapolis Super Bowl Bid Committee head to the Big Apple Thursday.

They're going to see how New York and New Jersey host Super Bowl XLVIII. Sunday's game takes place at the outdoor Met Life Stadium, and a lot of talk has revolved around the weather. It's expected to be below freezing and possibly snow Sunday.

Depending on how things go, could that play into Indianapolis chances for hosting the 2018 game?

The bid committee's Susan Baughman says no. 

"They have an open stadium and I think at the end of the day, the game is the most important priority (for the NFL) making sure it goes on time per contract and we have a covered stadium that was tested and proven when we had the event in 2012, so I feel like they do have confidence in our weather plan," Baughman said. 

Still, with the T-shirt-like weather in 2012, the weather plan never had to be implemented. This year is winding up to be one of central Indiana's worst winters with a series of storms that snarled traffic and sub-zero temperatures that shut down the City-County Building three times in January with one two-hour delay.

Baughman said that's not a big worry.

"The weather we've experienced here and up and down the coast is extraordinary and not normal, so we think they're more apt to look at what we've done under normal conditions," she said.

It probably doesn't hurt that Indianapolis is competing against two other cities which haven't fared much better this winter.

New Orleans has been hit by an ice storm, paralyzing much of the deep south, while Minneapolis has experienced sub-zero temperatrues much of the month, not to mention their normal snowfall.

During a news conference this week, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton dismissed any weather concerns saying, "We've proven it in Minnesota. We know how to handle a cold-weather" Super Bowl.

Minneapolis hosted its first and only Super Bowl in 1992 at the Metrodome. It's now in the process of building a new, nearly $1 billion stadium. Like Indianapolis and other cities which have built new stadiums, there is an expectation Minneapolis will get a Super Bowl.

Baughman said instead of focusing on weather, she'll spend most of her time checking out Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square, which took its cue from Indy's Super Bowl Village. It features a number of outdoor stages and activities, but instead of the widely-popular zipline down Capitol Avenue, New York is touting a toboggan slide.

"There's a lot of differences between Indianapolis an New York and New Jersey but at the same time, every time we go somewhere we learn something and find things we like or things that wouldn't work here," said Baughman.

She said the biggest challenge is "to come up with new ideas and remain on the cutting edge of what's going on so we remain leaders in the process."

The bid team will return Sunday morning, before the game. Baughman said because Met Life Stadium is an open venue, "I'm not sure how much we can learn" by being at the game.  "I think we'll learn more through the media."

She said efforts will continue to ramp up and that roughly 50 people are now working on the bid.

Baughman said fundraising is well underway with more than half the $30 million needed to host the game already pledged.

The next formal step in the process is to submit a preliminary bid to the NFL staff in April, with a follow-up meeting in New York.  After the bids have been fine-tuned, each of the three cities will make presentations to NFL owners at their annual meeting in May, with a vote taken immediately afterward.

Baughman said the committee feels good about Indy's chances.

"Having hosted (the Super Bowl) helps so much," she said, "because things we weren't so sure about going into before, we've proven we can do."